US stainless steel prices continue to rise

30th April 2024

Outokumpu’s United States operation in Calvert attempted to raise its base price by notifying customers of a two percentage point cut to its discount level, this month.

This was largely unsuccessful, however, and prices ultimately moved up in line with the published alloy surcharges.

Transaction values for 304 and 316 flat products will rise minimally in May, but are likely to jump in June, following the recent hikes in nickel prices.

The extent of the increase will depend on whether nickel prices remain elevated for the duration of the reference period and whether additional discounts in base prices are offered by the US mills to offset the rise in raw material costs.

Buyers are becoming increasingly concerned that any price increases in June may be swiftly followed by decreases, especially as the influence of the LME’s ban on Russian nickel fades.

In March, the ISM Manufacturing PMI rose to 50.3, indicating the first growth in manufacturing activity since September 2022. The majority of MEPS respondents reported no change in end-user demand this month. However, several larger distributors noticed a pickup in orders from smaller service centres.

Domestic mill bookings remain low and respondents suggest that North American Stainless has been slow to fill its May order books. Some buyers even reported that they had received deliveries early.

Limited tonnages of material are being shipped to Europe to meet the demands of Acerinox Europa customers. Workers at the Acerinox site in Cadiz have been on indefinite strike since February 5.

Market participants report that Outokumpu is now offering July production for new orders. However, this is not due to an increase in bookings but a response to the ongoing production issues at its Calvert site.

Customers are being encouraged to place orders early to allow for effective production planning. Several buyers report being offered prices lower than their current discount level. Many are receiving their existing orders between six and seven weeks late.

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