Ferro-chrome prices edge down in Europe as sentiment softens

Ferro-chrome markets in Europe were affected by softening sentiment in the week to Tuesday December 7, with market participants reporting ongoing focus on finalizing long-term agreements, alongside the traditional year-end slowdown and destocking activity.

Fastmarkets’ assessment of the price for ferro-chrome 0.10% C, average 65-70% Cr, delivered Europe dipped on Tuesday, with the range widening downward to $3.60-4.25 per lb, from $4-4.25 per lb two weeks earlier.

The price assessment for ferro-chrome low carbon, 65% Cr, max 0.06% C, delivered Europe moved in line with this, to $3.64-4.29 per lb, from $4.04-4.29 previously.

Deals for 0.10% carbon material were reported across the range, and some market participants reported that they anticipate ongoing strength, with expectations of stronger demand for stainless steel from the automotive sector, alongside potential supply tightness.

“I think the market is definitely under-supplied,” a producer said. “Traders can’t get any Chinese material, as China has virtually stopped exporting low carbon because of the huge export tax.”

“The Chinese government wants units to stay in China,” a seller said.

Fastmarkets’ price assessment for ferro-chrome high carbon 6-8.5% C, basis 65-70% Cr, max 1.5% Si, delivered Europe also edged down, with the range widening downward to $1.72-1.90 per lb, from $1.75-1.90 per lb on November 30.

“There haven’t been many inquiries. I’m a little bit surprised, because at this time of year, there are [usually] many people in the market covering their needs for the first quarter,” a trader said.

“I think [the market] is a little bit down. Demand is not that good. For instance, in Germany, the car industry isn’t doing that well because of the lack of microchips,” the trader added.

Similarly, the price for ferro-chrome low phosphorous, min 65% Cr, max 0.015% P, delivered Europe moved to $1.77-1.98 per lb, widening downward from $1.79-1.98 per lb on November 23.

“Most of the week has been focused on long-term negotiations,” a second producer said. “During Christmas, no one will be negotiating. We’re almost closing what we have to sell.”

He added, however, that the continuing rise in energy prices in Europe will likely drive prices up in the coming weeks and months.

“In my opinion, prices will increase, not only because of the [production] cost increases, but because of the fact that there’s not much material available for spot sales, at least in the European market,” he said.

The ferro-chrome high carbon 6-8.5% C, basis 60-64.9% Cr, max 3% Si, cif Europe price fell to $1.44-1.50 per lb, from $1.48-154 per lb a week previous, in a thinly traded market.

The ferro-chrome lumpy Cr benchmark indicator, charge basis 52% (and high carbon), Europe dipped to $1.91 per lb, from $1.93 per lb a week earlier, on the basis of declines in other prices.