US stainless price gap with rest of the world starts to narrow

1st August 2023

As reported in early June, stainless steel prices in the United States remain exceptionally high in comparison with those in the rest of the world.  

The difference in transaction values between the MEPS figures for the United States and Europe average, for grade 304 cold rolled coil, peaked at US$1867 per tonne in June. This compares with an average of less than US$300 per tonne in the previous five-year period.  

However, the price disparity started to narrow in July. For grade 304 cold rolled coil, the US alloy surcharge decreased by US$224 per tonne, while the rapid downward price trends witnessed in Europe and Asia started to ease. 

The flat product surcharge for grade 304, published by North American Stainless, will drop to US$2332 per tonne in August. This will result in a reduction of at least 20 percent in the price differential between the United States and Europe, from its high point in June. The grade 316 alloy surcharge will decrease by US$164 per tonne.  

However, it is anticipated that the European mills will continue to push for increases to their ‘effective’ selling prices in August. Therefore, it is likely that the price gap with Europe will close even further, in the near term. 

US stainless producers are unlikely to make any official adjustments to their discount levels, and instead will rely on the falling alloy surcharges combined with rising prices in Europe and Asia to close the gap, thereby reducing import competition.  

Buyers in the United States believe that having generated significant profits over the past few years, the mills are content to lower production capacity and maintain higher selling values. 

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