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Stainless steel market stirs back to life
Release Time:2017-02-23 Author:administrators Traffic:631

Demand recovers while Chinese exports shrivel

Prices of stainless steel are on an uptrend, with producers and distributors breathing a sigh of relief after a prolonged slump

Benchmark nickel-based stainless sheets currently sell for around $2,385 a ton in Hong Kong, a 36% rise from a recent low in October 2016. Chinese and South Korean manufacturers have announced price hikes in response to rising ingredient prices.

What is more, Chinese authorities in December ordered some plants to suspend operation, citing violations of environmental regulations. This apparently has cut down supplies there. Priority is now given to domestic demand in China, and as a result, there is little room for exports, says an informed source at a Japanese trading house.

Prices in the rest of Asia are also on the rise. Benchmark SUS 304 stainless steel currently trades at around 320,000 yen ($2,800) per ton wholesale in Tokyo, roughly 6% higher than the most recent low in September 2016.

The higher prices result from increased costs for the key ingredients of stainless steel -- ferrochrome and nickel. Ferrochrome has seen a 50% jump in price since the October-December quarter of 2016, as its Japan-bound export price rose to $1.73 a pound for January-March. Nickel is trading at a level about 30% higher than a recent low in February 2016.

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