European stainless coil sales reach standoff

European stainless steel coil prices continue to increase amid a shortage of European material and increasing alloy surcharges, Kallanish learns from market sources.

Cold rolled coil is now being transacted at €4,400-4,500/tonne ($4,993-5,106) delivered on average for European material depending on customer and volumes of orders. This is CRC sold for March delivery, while mills will now quote April and May delivery. The price comprises €1,800/t base plus an average of €2,600 alloy surcharges, Kallanish notes. 

Hot rolled coil prices have stopped increasing at €3,800-3,900/t delivered, due to lower-priced import offers, particularly from China, and service centres buying on the import market.

At the same time, Chinese mills have decreased their HRC and CRC prices significantly, enticing European buyers to purchase. Including duty, Chinese CRC is now at €3,650-3,670/t cfr, while HRC is at €3,200/t cfr. The gap between European and Chinese material is almost €800/t. 

CRC is also being sold by Indian steelmakers into Europe at €3,700-3,750/t cfr including import duty, while CRC from Taiwan is mostly at Chinese levels, sources suggest.

Customers are importing material instead of buying in Europe and, for the first time in months, a standoff over European coil sales is being reported. The lull in the market is forecast to continue and even worsen.

Meanwhile in Europe, nickel prices skyrocketed to $24,400/t in the morning of 20 January only to decline to $23,700 some hours later. Alloy surcharges continue to be extremely high and will increase in the coming months. This is contributing to discouraging buyers from purchasing in Europe, Kallanish notes.

Natalia Capra France