Asian stainless CRC rises on jump in nickel prices

Asian stainless cold-rolled coils increased in the week to Jan. 14, supported by the strong rallies seen in nickel prices which reached multiyear highs despite the slowdown in trade activity with the Lunar New Year holidays approaching.

S&P Global Platts assessed 304 grade 2 mm 2B stainless CRC at $3,090/mt CFR East and Southeast Asian ports Jan. 14, up $40/mt on the week.

Market sentiment was supported by strong nickel prices, which surged to their highest in a decade during the week. The official nickel cash price on the London Metal Exchange settled at $22,125-$22,130/mt Jan. 13, up $1,652.5/mt on the week.

The strong nickel prices have also boosted the sentiment in Chinese stainless futures, market sources said. Spot stainless steel market in southern China increased by above Yuan 300/mt in the week, although market activity was winding down as the Lunar New Year holiday falls end of the month, they said.

“Sellers have suspended offers for cargoes for immediate delivery, especially for 304 CRC, due to the market volatility,” said a Chinese trader. “Market inventory is relatively low now, and even if we could find the materials, it’s also tough to arrange the delivery as warehouses would be closed soon.” It’s also too tight to find the vessels now, he added. Both buyers and sellers preferred to wait on the sidelines until the Lunar New Year holidays get over.

Some major mills’ export offers, which are usually announced late of the month, expected to be above $3,000/mt FOB, sources said.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese and Japanese mills were also heard stopped providing offers due to strong nickel and more positive market outlook supported by raw material prices, said a regional trader. Taiwanese mills are likely to raise offers by at least $100/mt to $3,100/mt CFR, he said.

The most actively traded February 2022 stainless steel contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange closed at Yuan 17,895/mt Jan. 14, up Yuan 985/mt, or 5.8%, week on week and marked the highest level in about two months.

— Staff