MEPS predicts that EU stainless steel prices will continue to decline, in the short term. Flat product transaction values fell, in September, mainly due to decreases in alloy surcharges.
EU Stainless Steel
Reductions in alloy surcharges have been announced, for October, and further cuts are expected in November. Many customers will, therefore, delay placing orders. EU stainless steel mills will attempt to limit the impact of the decrease in the cost of alloying extras on their effective selling prices, in the months ahead. However, this may prove difficult under current weak market conditions.
Orders on the EU stainless steel producers are expected to reduce due to excessive inventories in the market. Imports are likely to remain competitive, in the short term. The EC safeguarding quotas for flat products will, almost certainly, remain available at the start of 2019. Transaction values are forecast to rise in the first half of 2019, mainly as a result of increased raw material costs, at that time.
The September average cash nickel price decreased by approximately 6 percent, month-on-month. The ongoing trade war, between China and the US, continues to worry investors. A strengthening in the US dollar added to the negative pressure on nickel prices. Nevertheless, inventories held in LME warehouses fell to below 230,000 tonnes.
The fundamentals remain positive for nickel – with demand outstripping supply. Growing concerns about a slowdown in the Chinese economy are likely to restrict the potential for a significant upward movement in nickel values, in the short term. An upturn in prices is, however, envisaged, in the first half of 2019. A steady increase in nickel demand is anticipated, particularly from the electric vehicle sector. However, significant growth in consumption from that source is expected to take many years to develop. The downward trend in LME inventories is likely to continue in the medium term. This is forecast to have a positive influence on nickel and, subsequently, EU stainless steel prices, in the next twelve months.