European stainless 304 alloy surcharges hit 10-month high for October

Monthly alloy surcharges on austenitic 304-grade stainless steel flat-rolled products in Europe are set to rise next month to their highest level since December last year, first mill announcements indicated Sept. 21.

Finland’s Outokumpu, the continent’s largest producer, set its alloy adjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at €1,462/mt ($1,716/mt) for October, up €92 from September to its highest level since it was set at €1,608/mt in December 2019.

Having hit a 15-month low of $10,865/mt in late March as the coronavirus crisis escalated, three-months nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange reached a 2020 high at $15,810/mt in early August, before easing back to trade either side of $15,000/mt for much of the current month.

Through Sept. 21, the LME nickel settlement price averaged $15,094/mt for September to date, up 4% from the August average of $14,487/mt.

Outokumpu’s surcharge for molybdenum-bearing type 316 (4401) flat products is up €153/mt to €2,066/mt in September, the highest level since March.

The 316 surcharge hit its lowest level in over two years in May at €1,852/mt.

Having tested the $7/lb level in late July/early August, spot molybdenum oxide prices have held above $8/lb for September, basis S&P Global Platts daily assessments.

The Platts daily assessment stood at $8.35-$8.55/lb on Sept. 21, up from $7.70-$7.80/lb a month earlier.

Outokumpu’s surcharge for nickel-free type 430 flat products is up €11 for October to €569/mt.

The European benchmark ferrochrome price settled at 114 cents/lb for the fourth quarter of 2020, unchanged for the second quarter in succession, South African producer Merafe Resources said last week.

The benchmark price settled at 101 cents/lb in Q1 2020, rising to 114 cents/lb in Q2.

— Andy Blamey