GLOBAL FERRO-SILICON WRAP: Europe joins China in rally as US prices keep falling

Ferro-silicon prices jumped in Europe on Friday March 24 for the first time in a month on tight supply, while Chinese smelters continued to uphold recent high offers.

European prices rose to €1,175-1,275 ($1,269-1,377) per tonne on a delivered basis, up from €1,120-1,200 previously. 

“Ferro-silicon is extremely tight in Europe; there’s not much being produced in Europe right now,” a producer source told Metal Bulletin.

“The market has been gaining momentum as there’s been some strength in steel prices,” the source added.

Deals were reported at around €1,175-1,200 for spot business, while assessments, based on strength in quarterly numbers, also came up.

Meanwhile, in China, the market strengthened for the fourth consecutive week as major domestic smelters held firm with high offers despite thin trading.

Domestic ferro-silicon prices rose to 5,700-5,900 yuan ($828-857) per tonne in-warehouse, up from 5,600-5,800 yuan per tonne on March 17.

Market participants said on Friday they were waiting for the release of new bid price from mills, which should give clearer signals as to the direction of the market.

“Real transactions remain sporadic in the market this week; most people are still waiting for steel mills purchase price announcements for April,” a trader in Beijing told Metal Bulletin.

A smelter source predicted that the mills’ bid prices would be higher.

“Major mills may start their purchasing by next week and I guess they may set their price at 6,000 yuan per tonne [including delivery],” the smelter source said.

Given the price increase in the domestic market, exporters and smelters also raised their fob offers, but no concluded deals were reported. 

Ferro-silicon export prices from China rose to $1,150-1,200 per tonne fob on Friday from $1,000-1070 per tonne on March 17.

US market dips as sellers scramble at Q1 end
In the USA, ferro-silicon prices softened slightly as traders and suppliers offered more aggressively to book business before the end of the first quarter and into the second quarter. 

Spot prices for ferro-silicon slipped slightly to 76-80 cents per lb in-warehouse Pittsburgh on Thursday, down 1 cent on the low end of the trading range, according to Metal Bulletin sister publication AMM’s latest assessment.

“Prices have been a bit more aggressive than I expected, but I am not completely shocked,” a supplier source told AMM.

“It’s the end of the quarter, and there are plenty of people with material worried about the next time they will be able to sell, so they are trying to make sure they secure a home for their inventory now,” the source added.

But market participants said they suspect the weakness will be short lived, as strengthening overseas markets have elevated replacement costs.

“Prices have risen drastically on ferro-silicon outside of the USA, so the US market should start to feel the support,” a second supplier source said.

Replacement costs are towards the top end of the train range, a third supplier source told AMM.

“Replacement cost of US ferro-silicon starts at 80 cents [per lb] due to the rapid rise of Chinese and European ferro-silicon. Consumption is very good right now all over the world,” the third source added.