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The European Commission’s continuing investigation focuses on the potential dumping of cold rolled flat stainless steel products and was launched in June.
“At the moment, everyone is buying from Asia to get material in before duties. I think a lot of Europeans are buying extra from Asia for immediate shipment,” a stockholder based in Northern Europe said.
However, higher nickel prices, as a result of a bill to ban exports of unprocessed ores from the Philippines, did lead to Asian sellers worrying about export price competitiveness, market participants said.
The official three-month bid/offer spread for nickel on the London Metal Exchange increase to $19,450/19,455 per tonne on September 5, compared with $18,570/18,575 on August 29.
Meanwhile, base prices for 2mm domestic grade-304 cold rolled sheet remained at €1,100-1,150 ($1,439-1,504) per tonne for October and November rolling, unchanged week-on-week.
Grade-316 2mm CR sheet stainless steel sheet base prices also stayed at previous levels of €1,400-1,440 ($1,831-1,883) per tonne for October and November production.
Although contradicted at the 13th International Stainless & Special Steel Summit earlier this week by representatives of the main European stainless flat steel producers, market sources said stock levels in the region were high.
“There are still plenty of stocks at the stockholder/distributor level,” a second source said.
Grade-304 bright bar base prices remained stable week-on-week at €920-960 ($1,203-1,255) per tonne for October and November rolling.
Finnish stainless steel company Outokumpu's daily alloy surcharge for grade-304 flat stainless products hit its lowest point this week at €1,423 ($1,861) per tonne and ended the week at its peak of €1,492 ($1,951) - up €69 ($90) per tonne week-on-week.
In grade-316 flat products, the daily alloy surcharge released by Outokumpu troughed at €2,170 ($2,838) per tonne, and closed the week at its highest point of €2,262 ($2,958) per tonne – an increase of €92 ($120) per tonne compared with August 29.
EU buyers of stainless cold rolled sheet are booking last-minute orders from Asia, to be delivered before the end of the year, ahead of possible anti-dumping duties, market sources told Steel First on Friday September 5.