An Update on the Price of Stainless Steel

There has been a scramble among stainless steel makers around the globe to adjust pricing levels, in part due to a swift escalation of nickel costs. It has been reported by market participants that a number of mills in China withdrew offers temporarily while they evaluated their rapidly-rising outlays for raw material. Producers in other countries in Asia also delayed their provision of quotations to local distributors while waiting for current pricing information from China.

Asian export offers were also suspended temporarily to European buyers in recent weeks. Over several months, Asian imports have not been attractive to buyers in Europe, mostly because of anti-dumping investigations and EC safeguard quotas. This is however set to change as prices for European stainless steel continue to rise and delivery lead times are extended, particularly in relation to flat stainless steel products from the 300 and 400 series. These factors are likely to make overseas material of interest once again.

The overall price rises for stainless steel have been compounded by massive hikes in sea freight costs due to shortages in container availability. Port congestion is mainly to blame, with stainless steel deliveries into Europe from Asia suffering serious disruption. It has been reported that a number of UK-bound vessels were diverted to other ports on the European mainland.

The transport situation between mainland Europe and the UK is fraught, due to Brexit-related issues and movement restrictions imposed in the global fight against COVID-19. Freight costs are predicted to remain at an elevated level as we move through the first quarter of 2021.

Nickel prices, along with those of other key raw materials used in stainless steelmaking, are expected to remain high in the short term. The announcement of COVID-19 vaccine rollouts has resulted in investors becoming 'significantly more optimistic'.

A number of nickel mines have suffered production outages which, coupled with rising domestic demand in China, has created concerns of potential shortages of supply in the market. It is thus almost certain that the price of stainless steel globally will 'continue on an upward trajectory' as 2021 progresses.

Throughout these uncertain time, BS Stainless will continue to supply our global network of customers with stainless steel products of superlative quality at the most competitive market price. For updates on this volatile situation, please subscribe to our regular newsletter and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. BS Stainless: your partner for stainless steel.

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