GLOBAL SILICON WRAP: US silicon prices increasing; Chinese, European prices stable
Silicon metal prices in the US continued to rise in November, pressured higher by supply tightness concerns.
The supply tightness has stemmed from anti-dumping and countervailing investigations in the country, while industry participants remained largely absent from the spot market.
American Metal Market assessed the US free market spot 553 silicon price at $1.35-1.38 per lb on November 10, up 7% from $1.26-1.29 per lb a month earlier; the highest it’s been since May 2015.
“Metal is being offered in the spot market closer to $1.40 [per lb], but there is not much liquidity in the market now,” one silicon supplier said.
“The industry is more focused on discussing 2018 contracts now, yet negotiations are progressing fairly slowly given the [anti-dumping and countervailing] investigations,” the supplier added.
Meanwhile, China’s silicon export price has been steady over the last week with consumers standing on the sidelines of the spot market.
China’s grade 553 silicon export price stood at $1,840-1,900 per tonne, fob major China ports, unchanged from the previous week.
The sluggish demand continues to subdue any rally ahead of the dry season, when a majority of refineries in southern China shutdown due to higher power costs.
Despite refineries in China keeping their quotation firm in the spot market, market participants indicate refineries are actually losing their power in price negotiations.
“You can always negotiate a price lower than what refineries initially offer at the moment. They no longer have the strong hand in negotiations,” a Chinese trader said.
Meanwhile, there is no sign of demand picking up outside of China, while some consumers indicated sufficient stocks in recent weeks.
“Consumers, no matter if they are from Japan or South Korea, or from Europe, seem only interested in purchasing cargos delivered in mid-December. They are pretty patient and [haven’t] rushed into booking at all,” the same trader said.
Japanese buyers are watchful for the market development in China, as usual, before they release public tenders for production materials needed in the first quarter next year. It will be mid-November before Japanese buyers start procurement in the spot market, market sources said.
European traders are more cautious towards importing materials from China, especially when the arbitrage is not in favor of import.
“The arbitrage window opens now than then. But it is just not opening at the moment,” a European trader said.
In addition, European traders intend to wait a bit longer on procurement until the final ruling comes out on the anti-dumping duties in the US against silicon originating from Brazil.
It is believed that more Brazilian cargos would find their final destination in Europe because European traders seem to prefer Brazilian metal to Chinese, market sources said.
Prices in Europe also remained stable last week.
Metal Bulletin assessed the grade 441 silicon, in-warehouse Rotterdam price at €2,215-2,325 per tonne on Friday, unchanged from the previous assessment.
The grade 553 price assessment was also steady at €2,150-2,200 per tonne.
“Prices still remain supported by tight availability and good demand,” a second trader in Europe said.
“I’m getting lost of enquiries but have to turn people away as I have nothing to offer till the end of this year. The good momentum on prices should continue till early next year,” a producer in Europe said.