Suppliers have been making deals with consumers increasingly prepared to buy material either at the top end of the range, or ready to negotiate at prices above that level.

The move follows a steady drop in molybdenum prices over the past two weeks as Asian suppliers were willing to sell at lower prices as consumers failed to emerge after the summer lull. That dragged down prices in Europe where consumer buying interest was also weak.

Metal Bulletin assessed the price of European drummed molybdic oxide, in-warehouse Rotterdam, at $11.60-11.80 per lb on September 26, down from $11.80-12.00 per lb on Friday September 21. About 156 tonnes of oxide was reported traded at $11.60-11.80 per lb, compared with only 20 tonnes traded in the previous week for forward delivery in October, at $12.10 to $12.20 per lb.

"Last week we started seeing anxious Asian sellers and signs of consumer demand in Europe," one oxide supplier said. "The Asian move dragged down both Asian and European prices but from today we are seeing more European consumer demand as they think the molybdenum markets have reached a bottom. That should influence Asian demand."

A trader agreed that a rise in prices looks to be on the way. "There is more trading activity in Europe this week, which is expected to increase in the next couple of weeks, although much depends on oxide prices," the trader said. "Briquettes were sold on Tuesday at $11.70 per kg, but a day later briquettes are being offered at $11.90 per kg, so the markets seem set to push higher in the next week or so."

The price of ferro-molybdenum, in-warehouse Rotterdam, was $28.50-28.80 per kg on Wednesday, down from $28.80-29.00 per kg on Friday of last week. Only 24 tonnes of ferro-molybdenum were reported traded at $28.60 per kg, down from 48 tonnes the week before, at $29.00 per kg.

In terms of downstream consumption, a drop in stainless steel prices amid a stock selloff showed that some steel suppliers were cutting prices to compete with that selloff.

Steel traders have said that market competition with stockholders has become so strong that they have lost market share this month, and are unlikely to meet sales targets for September despite healthy underlying demand.

Steel traders have attributed that loss of market share to the persistently high volume of imports from Asia on which the recently implemented EU safeguarding measures have yet to have an effect.