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Falling Nickel Price at LME Has No Effects on Ni-base CR Steel in Asia
The price of nickel (Ni) is falling at London Metal Exchange (LME); however, it has exerted no effects on the prices of Ni-base steel sheets in overseas markets. The stainless steel markets have in recent times ceased to respond to the nickel price at LME. Their focus of attention may be on the moves of PT Indonesia Tsingshan Stainless Steel (ITSS), rather than LME.

Export market prices of Ni-base cold-rolled (CR) steel have shown no fluctuations in July. Still, South Korea reportedly received 5,000 tons of stainless steel sheets from Indonesia in June. This means that, its imports from Indonesia exceeded 10,000 tons in total since May. ITSS's price of hot-rolled steel coil (HRC) in June is considered to have been $2,000 CFR, which increased slightly compared to the estimated price of $2,000 or below in May. However, there is still a $100-150 gap with POSCO's price of HRC, which is said to be $2,100-2,150 CFR. ITSS stainless steel products are gaining greater market shares in Vietnam and Thailand, the countries in which POSCO has set up its overseas bases.

In South Korea and Taiwan alike, local stainless steel manufacturers have no way to raise their domestic prices under pressure of cheaper imported products. There is a rumor going around that China's Taiyuan Kron and Steel may file an anti-dumping (AD) suit to block ITTS stainless steel. As even China sees this as an AD problem, South Korea may act earlier, preparing an AD suit. POSCO may also file an AD suit in Thailand, where its subsidiary, Thainox, is headquartered.

With ITSS making a full-scale entry into the Ni-base steel sheet markets in Asia, customers are waiting with bated breaths to see how things will develop. Japanese mills, which cannot compete on price, are holding talks only with customers who specifically require Japan-made products.

If Indonesia's exports to South Korea continue to grow, South Korean stainless steel products may be forced out and head for other destinations including Japan. A preparation for an AD suit may also be necessary in Japan sooner than expected.
last modified : Tue 24 Jul, 2018 [10:06]
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