Asian stainless CRC inches on strong nickel

Asian stainless cold-rolled coils increased in the week to Dec. 24, supported by stronger nickel prices and improved sentiment led by strengthening Chinese domestic market.

S&P Global Platts assessed 304 grade 2 mm 2B stainless CRC at $3,120/mt CFR East and Southeast Asian ports Dec. 24, up $15/mt on the week.

Nickel prices strengthened and rose above the $20,000/mt mark again during the week. The official nickel cash price on the London Metal Exchange settled at $20,175-$20,180/mt Dec. 23, up $595/mt on the week.

Chinese domestic market continued its slight rebound, which made market participants believe prices would be more stable before the Lunar New Year holidays, as traders would start to leave the market since early January.

Market inventory remained relatively low, which would continue to support the spot market along with strong raw materials, said a Chinese trader.

One Chinese mill was heard offered about $2,900/mt FOB for 304 CRC for end-February and early March shipment. The offering level for 304 CRC for immediate delivery should also pick up but there were no buying activity due to the holidays, said another Chinese trader. “Buyers would return after the New Year holidays,” he said.

The most actively traded February 2022 stainless steel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at Yuan 16,770/mt in the morning session on Dec. 24, up Yuan 775/mt, or 4.8%, week on week. The futures had been up for two straight weeks after downward corrections seen since late October.

— Staff