High carbon FeCr prices tick up in Europe; buyers gradually return

High carbon ferro-chrome prices rose in Europe during the week to Tuesday August 29, amid rising offers from the sell side, while end users have gradually begun to return to the spot market following summer maintenance shutdowns.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for ferro-chrome high carbon 6-8.5% C, basis 65-70% Cr, max 1.5% Si, delivered Europe climbed to $1.75-1.94 per lb Cr on Tuesday, up 6.32% from the week before.

“Looking at the past week, [we only sold a small amount] but there are many enquiries coming in these days for delivery in September,” a ferro-chrome supplier said. “I guess starting from next week, we will see more movement.”

“With China being [firmer] and prices going up, as well as [Europe] returning to the market, we’re seeing an increase in [high carbon] transactions,” a seller added.

A source on the buy side added that offers had risen in recent days, with sellers increasingly unwilling to accept lower levels.

Prices were also up in the lower grade market, with reports of support from high input costs in India, which is a key supplier of the material.

Fastmarkets’ weekly price assessment for ferro-chrome high carbon 6-8.5% C, basis 60-64.9% Cr, max 3% Si, cif Europe rose to $1.13-1.20 per lb Cr, up 7.34% week on week.

Chrome ore prices have been rising in the country in recent weeks, with mining reportedly affected by the monsoon season there.

“Chrome ore prices in India have increased a lot, causing higher ferro-chrome prices,” a sell-side source in India told Fastmarkets. “It’s monsoon season now, and the rain has caused mining problems for chrome ore.”

Meanwhile, low carbon ferro-chrome prices moved into a wider range, amid reports from the buy side of strong supply and weak liquidity, versus the sell side’s reluctance to accept lower prices.

On Tuesday, Fastmarkets’ fortnightly price assessment for ferro-chrome 0.10% C, average 65-70% Cr, delivered Europe stood at $2.30-3.15 per lb Cr, compared with $2.35-3.00 per lb Cr as of the previous assessment. This marked an overall increase of 1.87%.

“Stocks are big and there’s low liquidity,” the buy-side source said. “There are lots of stocks in Rotterdam.”

“[We’ve had] no low carbon deals — we’re struggling in that market,” the seller added.

However, a second seller told Fastmarkets that it was still possible to achieve the higher levels seen in recent weeks, with reasonable liquidity over the course of August, and that he had not accepted lower bids.

“I’ve heard offers at [lower levels] but we haven’t lowered our prices,” he said. “If we do this, we’ll start to lose money. We’re still at our level of [a few] weeks ago.”

Meanwhile, there were also reports during the latest pricing session that the supply of lower-priced Chinese and possibly Indian low carbon ferro-chrome may be receding in Europe, with suggestions that access to the required grade of chrome ore may have decreased and that the opportunity to make a profit by selling into Europe had also faded.

“The ore supply is poor. They don’t have enough material coming and there’s not enough material [there] at the moment,” the buy-side source said.

“These cheaper imports… are much lower than what they used to be,” a distributor added. “If you look at the Chinese price [on a CIF basis] and add the duties and so on, it’s close to the current low and that’s a zero-profit price.”

According to the distributor, this could lead to reduced interest in exporting, which may provide some price support in Europe in the short term.

Published by: Claire Patel-Campbell