For the Quarter Ending December 2023
In the North American region, the fourth quarter of 2023 was challenging for the Stainless-Steel Round Bar market. In October 2023, high prices persisted in the US stainless-steel Round Bar market, fueled by increased demand from the chemical and automotive sectors, compounded by limited upstream material supplies. US bond yields rose, reflecting a robust economy. In November, despite a rise in Bund yields driven by strong US economic data, an agreement on the steel dispute between the EU and the US was elusive.
November saw a decline in US stainless-steel Round Bar prices due to increased production and reduced consumption, with Outokumpu's expansion plans adding to supply. Surpluses in feedstock and lower production costs influenced the market. December witnessed further price declines amid increased inventory and reduced demand. The Nickel mining industry globally grew, driven by improved feedstock supply, while US stainless steel producers shifted investments to China for competitiveness.
Winter holidays, severe weather, and market uncertainties contributed to subdued demand in the US spot market. The price of Stainless-Steel Round Bar (25 mm) DEL Philadelphia in the USA at the end of the fourth quarter of 2023 was USD 7586/MT. This price reflects the market conditions and the challenges faced during the quarter.
In the APAC region, the fourth quarter of 2023 for Stainless Steel Round Bars witnessed a declining price trend amidst various factors that influenced the market and prices. Firstly, In October 2023, Chinese Stainless-Steel Round Bar prices saw a decline, influenced by a shift in international demand towards the southern direction. Anti-dumping duties in the US and Europe on Chinese imports, uncertainty about Steel scrap and Nickel availability in China, and a scarcity of steel scrap led to this trend. World Steel predicted a 7.7% growth in steel demand, depleting Chinese iron ore stocks to a 7-year low. In the latter part of the quarter, Stainless-Steel Round Bar prices fell due to increased Nickel supply and reduced consumption, with recycled materials proving cost-effective. December 2023 witnessed price stability in the Chinese Stainless-Steel Round Bar market despite decreased demand globally. Unfavorable weather conditions impacted construction and manufacturing, resulting in a surplus Stainless-Steel Round Bar supply. The global Nickel supply increased, influenced by mining expansions and the IPO of Tsingshan Holding Group's battery subsidiary. An explosion at a Nickel plant in Sulawesi, China, raised concerns. High-grade NPI production became more cost-effective, causing surplus inventory. Lowered demand during holidays and disruptions in the Red Sea route affected China's Stainless Steel Round Bar consumption, with future trends contingent on trade and macroeconomic factors. In terms of price trends, the latest price of SS 304 Round Bar (50 mm) Ex Dainan in China for the last quarter is USD 2237/MT.
In the fourth quarter of 2023, the European stainless steel Round Bar market experienced a challenging period. Initially, in October 2023, the German spot market experienced a surge in Stainless Steel Round Bar prices due to increased demand from the automotive and chemical sectors, coupled with a decrease in raw material supply. Global and domestic inventory levels for steel scrap and Nickel pig iron decreased as production rates declined. The EU Carbon Border Tax faced initial challenges, leading EU steelmakers to advocate for an export ban on EU ferrous scrap. Claims of circumvention against stainless steel products from Turkey, Taiwan, and Vietnam were considered weak, reflecting uncertainties surrounding the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. In contrast, by the conclusion of 2023, the German spot market witnessed a noticeable decrease in Stainless-Steel Round Bar prices due to oversupply and reduced demand from domestic downstream industries. Production costs and manufacturing demand concerns prompted a production pause by Arvedi Acciai Speciali Terni. The dependence on biogas and natural gas led to ArcelorMittal's Torero plant in Belgium, addressing carbon emissions by converting waste wood into bio-coal. The latest price for Stainless Steel Round Bar (25 mm) Ex Ruhr in Germany for the last quarter is USD 3963/MT.
For the Quarter Ending September 2023
Stainless steel round bar prices initially rose in Q3 due to higher nickel costs and growth in automotive and construction. Inflation led to US factories increasing base prices. The automotive sector benefited from Tesla's success and EV tax cuts, while construction projects boosted demand. However, low inventories resulted from increased demand and lower production. The US spot market saw a price drop due to reduced demand from market uncertainties and economic factors. This included limited oil and gas availability due to Russian sanctions and OPEC export restrictions, along with the UAW strike and the US Federal Reserve's decision to maintain interest rates. On the supply side, nickel feedstock increased modestly due to higher extraction rates from overseas mining nations, partly tied to Norilsk Nickel's financial issues and the Avebury nickel mine's sale. The Philippines also planned investments in processing plants. Diminished demand from oil and gas, OPEC supply cuts, and market uncertainty concerned US Stainless-Steel Round Bar producers. These factors resulted in slower market trade along with provoking the buyers to remain in a wait-and-watch situation.
In Q3 2023, China saw a significant drop in Stainless-Steel Round Bar prices. Weak demand from local and international industries was a primary factor. Moreover, an increase in the supply of crude nickel, a vital ingredient in stainless steel production, contributed to the price decline. Local Chinese factories, like Tsingshan Group in Indonesia (50,000-ton capacity) and Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co. in Zhejiang province (36,600-ton capacity), ramped up nickel production. Huzhou Jiuli Stainless Steel Material Co., Ltd. received a $4.1 million investment from Zhejiang JIULI Hi-tech Metals Co., Ltd., signaling an intent to boost production. Stainless Steel Round Bar inventories faced pressure due to an increase in Stainless Steel HR Coil supplies, driven by production hikes from Huzhou Jiuli and new contracts by Zhejiang JIULI. Despite falling prices, local consumers increased purchases for destocking. Demand for Feedstock Nickel from the electric vehicle sector kept local mills adjusting prices upward to cover rising production costs. This intricate supply-demand balance created a challenging market, with manufacturers striving to maintain Stainless Steel Round Bar prices in the Chinese spot market.
In July, Germany experienced fluctuating market sentiments. Initially, optimism prevailed as stainless-steel rod prices surged due to higher nickel costs, driven by growing electric vehicle demand in Europe. Factories adopted aggressive pricing to attract consumers, raising base prices. However, a production halt at the Slovenian Steel Group, the sector's largest producer, due to a hot rolling mill engine failure, disrupted stainless steel round bar supplies. Government intervention reduced inventory, with a three-month recovery estimate. Despite high demand in the German automotive sector, construction weakened due to rising interest rates and inflation. The European Central Bank increased rates by 0.5%, causing building sales to drop. Nickel inventory levels rose as aluminum refineries invested in nickel mines. Stainless steel bar supplies remained ample due to regular mill production despite reduced construction demand. German automakers faced competition from Chinese and American firms, with Tesla intensifying market challenges. Additionally, building permits decreased as local housing purchases declined. These factors resulted in a decline in price for the Stainless-Steel Round bar prices for the third quarter of 2023.
For the Quarter Ending June 2023
In the second quarter of 2023, the United States Stainless Steel Round Bar initially rose in April and then showed a downward trend in the second half of the second quarter. In April, the rise in the price of raw material nickel on the world market supported cost support to produce stainless-steel round bars. The consumer price index was higher at the beginning of the quarter due to good purchasing activity, which meant a good start to the second quarter. Domestic forward demand was strong, which kept the consumption rate better. There was significant growth in the service sector, and thanks to the increased market demand, it was possible to offer services at a higher bid price. In the second half of the second quarter, prices decreased slightly mainly due to the debt crisis and rising inflation. The stable economic structure of the United States fell apart and the market situation became pessimistic. In June, the price of the Stainless-Steel Round Barn rebounded when the US government extended the debt by two years, leading to stability in the US economy. Rising interest rates, coupled with rising costs of living, and collapsing household savings have weakened consumer purchasing power and caused a decline in demand for stainless steel round bars in the US spot market. Various projects signed by the US government boosted demand for stainless steel round bar at the end of the second quarter.
In the second quarter of 2023, the price of stainless-steel round bar in the Chinese market decreased. The price increases were made in April in response to the rise in the price of the raw material nickel in the first period of the II quarter. The market was more favorable and the stainless-steel production facilities were making money. Both the increase in money in the Chinese market and the decrease in nickel inventories of the raw material contributed to the positive market sentiment that supported the price increase. The price of scrap stainless steel has risen, giving nearby Chinese factories a larger market. The price of stainless-steel round plate fell in the second half of the second quarter and finally started to decline. In May, a sour market attitude towards Stainless Steel Round Bar developed due to rising inflation and the macroeconomic outlook related to the unpredictability of the economy. Since the Liyang stainless steel factory planned to increase the production capacity of the billet, the production rate of the stainless-steel factories was high. Construction activity in China's spot market has slowed due to the country's unstable economy and regional holidays. At the end of the quarter, the Chinese government used several incentives to improve its financial position. As the market sentiment became volatile, consumers were reluctant to place significant orders, so local factories lowered the offering price of stainless-steel round bars across China.
German stainless steel round bar prices initially rose and then fell in the second quarter of 2023. In April, the rise in the price of raw material nickel helped provide strong cost support to produce stainless-steel round bar 9 in German factories. Demand in the local downstream automotive industry has grown along with the growth in sales of electric cars. This kept stainless steel round bar prices high in April on the German spot market. In the second half of the second quarter, the global economic situation collapsed, and inflation rose, which created pessimistic market sentiment among the buyers. The production volume of local factories increased because of the decrease in secondary demand, which caused a decrease in the price of stainless-steel round bars. Stainless steel round bar was available in surplus at cheaper prices from overseas Chinese producers, which put pressure on German stainless steel round bar in both domestic and foreign markets. To maintain a competitive global market situation, factories had to sell at a lower price. The impact of the global economic downturn combined with increased supply has caused a drop in the price of Stainless-Steel Round Bar in the German spot market.
For the Quarter Ending March 2023
In the North American region, the pricing trend for Stainless-Steel Round Bar varied over the three months in the first quarter of 2023. Initially, there was a stagnancy in the pricing trend for SS Round Bar due to consistent downstream inquiries. However, stocks available in the spot market increased significantly as stainless-steel factories increased product distribution. In February, the rates for SS Round Bar increased by more than 1.2% despite a lack of forward visibility and persistent recessionary concerns that continue to erode buyer confidence in the United States. However, the prices for SS Round Bar declined in March due to fewer spot sales or purchases owing to slow demand amid plentiful inventory available in the domestic market. Furthermore, weak orders from end-user industries were observed as they were wary of purchasing it at offered prices in such a volatile market. Therefore, prices of Stainless Steel Round Bar for Ex Philadelphia settled at USD 7480/MT on March 31.
In the Asia-Pacific region, the price trend of Stainless Steel Round Bar declined in the first quarter of 2023 due to high inventory levels and subdued downstream demand. Market participants reported that both stainless steel and nickel prices fell during this quarter, which eased cost pressure on finished products. Stainless steel mills resumed production after the Chinese New Year holiday, but the increased production resulted in low demand and high inventory. Despite prices falling further in March, they were still higher than spot transaction prices, and buyers were waiting for further price drops. Spot transactions were slow, and overseas demand was weak, making it a difficult quarter for sellers. As a result, the price of the Stainless Steel Round Bar for Ex Dainan settled at USD 2468/MT on March 31.
In the European region, Stainless-Steel Round Bar showcased a mixed-price trend during the first quarter of 2023. Initially, the prices increased in Germany as the downstream inquiries and demand from service centers, and re-rollers were strong. There was positive momentum, but because so much restocking occurred in December, market activity was stable in January, especially with the Chinese New Year approaching. Also, a lack of competitive imports contributed to price increases. However, the prices approached a downward trend entering February as a result of declining demand and a lack of clarity over the direction of the market for stainless steel consumption. The trading in the European SS Round Bar market remained dull as purchasers had a wait-and-see attitude and avoided large bookings. Long-product stainless steelmakers were eager for sales amid high stockpiles, due to which they decreased the prices of SS Round Bar in the final month of a quarter. Therefore, prices of Stainless Steel Round Bar for Ex Ruhr settled at USD 3917/MT on March 31.
For the Quarter Ending December 2022
Towards the closure of Q4, the Stainless Steel Round Bar prices showcased a declining trend in the US market owing to the higher inventory level and limited downstream demand outlook. In October, the downstream buyers remain observant of drawing down inventories across all products through the end of the year. With falling scrap prices, mills had tried to remain competitive with import offers as downstream demand from new projects had not warranted additional spot buys or bookings of more significant imports, along with rising financing costs. Participants in the US Stainless Steel market were optimistic about the new year, but spot prices remained lower than they were during the previous summer and fall seasons. This winter's activity has slowed significantly, but downstream work appears to be picking up for next year.
In the Chinese market, the Stainless-Steel Round Bar prices showcased a rising trend in the final quarter of 2022 owing to the lower inventory level and firm downstream demand amidst the COVID control and prevention measures. According to market participants, the upstream of stainless steel has decreased. The price of stainless steel increased due to the unexpected arrival in October following the festival, a shortage of some specifications, and the fermentation of raw material supply problems. With a minor adjustment, the stainless-steel market was mostly stable in mid-Q4. In some areas, epidemic prevention and control measures were tightened, and logistics and transportation were halted. Traders and downstream businesses waited and watched, only buying when necessary. Downstream demand was declining toward the end of the year, and market willingness to purchase was low.
Towards the end of the fourth quarter of 2022, Stainless Steel Round Bar prices in the German market displayed a mixed trend due to increased inventory availability and a limited downstream demand outlook. With price volatility on the rise, European steel producers were considering switching to shorter terms with fixed-price contract customers, particularly automakers. Mills attempted to harden their stance to save money. Buyers who ordered December delivery said the material was already available, with lead times as low as two weeks from several mills. Customers were taking a wait-and-see approach due to the current economic uncertainty, and even large buyers were purchasing in smaller quantities than usual. According to a large buyer, lower demand was caused primarily by prices remaining too high, given the significant slowdown in downstream activity. Some mills have stopped providing quotations and will re-enter the market in the first half of January. Domestic prices for SS Round Bar in Europe remained unchanged due to a market slowdown ahead of the Christmas holidays.
For the Quarter Ending September 2022
During the third quarter of 2022, the Stainless-Steel Round bar prices rose in the US market amidst a sluggish demand outlook. Market players cite that US steel prices have been under significant pressure for most of 2022, driven by weakening downstream demand, conservative service center buying, and persistently high supply. However, rising signs of a recession had kept many buyers on the fence, fearful of being saddled with overpriced steel inventories if the downturn worsened. Furthermore, many buyers refused to make purchases that would increase their inventories and preferred to keep stocks tight rather than take risks in an uncertain market. Furthermore, in their most recent earnings reports, steelmakers indicated that they believe demand will remain stable or increase, citing persistent backlogs. Thus, SS 304 Round Bar (25 mm) prices for FOB New York Port (USA) settled at USD 10637/MT.
During the third quarter of 2022, the Stainless-Steel Round bar prices witnessed a mixed sentiment owing to the limited buyer inquiries. Buyers who had depleted their stockpiles booked even small quantities so that their products could continue. Most buyers awaited the tender price for September delivery from Chinese steel mills. As a result, the cost of ferrochrome has remained stable. With the festive season, India's stainless-steel mills returned to normal production levels. Stainless steel demand is typically higher in India during the festive season. However, the outlook from India's top export destination, China, remains unchanged. Small-scale buyers have been deferring purchases in anticipation of a lower price in the next round of purchase tenders from major stainless-steel round bar manufacturers since chrome ore prices have fallen. As a ripple effect, the SS 304 Round Bar (50 mm) prices for Ex Dainan (China) settled at USD 2331/MT.
The Stainless-Steel Round Bar market in the European market remained subdued, with essentially flat prices during the third quarter of 2022. Market participants noticed how the escalating energy crisis would affect the fourth quarter. Transaction prices, which had recently followed a similar trend to base prices, were assessed lower this quarter due to weak demand and oversupply. Distributors noticed more orders, but prices remained low. Suppliers mentioned a price bottom and some increases in September due to higher energy costs. In August and mid-September, energy prices rose by USD 100/MT daily, but distributors were waiting for orders. However, manufacturers reported at the end of September that European stainless steel bar demand returned to the market after a long period of stagnation during which prices fell and buyers purchased in small quantities. Therefore, SS 304 Round Bar (25 mm) prices for Ex Ruhr (Germany) settled at USD 4080/MT.