In early 2019, EU stainless steel production has been at expected levels whereas imports of finished stainless steel goods have been slightly lower than forecasted. In light of good demand, stainless steel-related raw material pricing gained some momentum, with nickel, chrome, molybdenum and ferrous prices all showing increases. For example, the European ferro-chrome benchmark price increased by around 7% in the second quarter to US$ 1.20 per lb.
During the second quarter, industry demand in general and that for stainless in particular has lost some momentum, mainly in the white goods and automotive sectors. Less consumer confidence and uncertainty regarding electric versus combustion engines have been the main drivers of this trend. As the summer months approach in the northern hemisphere, reduced demand for raw materials and most probably lower respective price levels should be anticipated.
Regarding availability of stainless scrap, this has covered demand during 2019 as price levels attracted healthy material flows throughout the value chain. For Europe, and mainly in the first quarter, a significant volume of stainless scrap was exported owing to more competitive prices levels, for example, in India.