Molybdenum market price spreads widen on slow trading

Price spreads widened in the European molybdenum markets in the middle of the week that began on Monday August 27, after easing the week before, sources told Metal Bulletin this week.

But suppliers were wary about committing to business before the full return of consumers to the market in September, after the summer holiday period, they added.

Metal Bulletin assessed the price of European drummed molybdic oxide, in-warehouse Rotterdam, at $11.80-12.00 per lb on Wednesday August 29, widening downward by $0.10 from the previous Friday.

Only 20 tonnes of oxide was reported traded at the bottom end of the price range. The premium for briquettes was reported around $0.20-0.40 above the current range for oxide.

Market participants in Europe said that they were seeing signs that domestic consumers were starting to inquire about offer prices. One oxide supplier sold a few tonnes of briquettes at $12.40 per lb in-warehouse, and also got $29.50-29.70 per kg for a few tonnes of ferro-molybdenum.

Chinese suppliers were offering small lots at $33-34 per kg, European sources said, while South Korean suppliers were offering small lots at $29.60 per kg.

“We’re hearing that people in the market are just price-checking rather than doing firm business,” one consumer said. “There is more trading activity in Busan than in Rotterdam, where there have been no tenders issued by consumers since the seasonal slowdown.”

The price of ferro-molybdenum, in-warehouse Rotterdam, was $28.50-29.20 per kg on Wednesday, widening from $28.60-29.05 per kg on Friday. Only about 70 tonnes of alloy have been traded so far this week.

“Let’s see what the Chinese do in terms of trading in the next few days. They need the units,” one European trader said.

“The import window has opened after the seasonal slowdown, so let’s see what happens in the next few weeks. We’re hearing that [South] Korean steelmaker Posco [will be] in the market for oxide in the next week or so, plus there are Chinese tenders happening, which should all provide near-term price direction,” he added.

In terms of consumption, European steel-sector sources do not expect stainless steel product prices to change unless there is a noticeable change in market fundamentals.

The steel market was quiet on Wednesday, with subdued trading levels typical of August. But a clearer picture of supply and demand levels should be possible when the market resumes typically active trading in September.

Steel dealers said that imports from Asia were readily available in the market and that more shipments were said to be en route. Steel deliveries in Europe for October and November shipment were expected to be bought in September, when heavy industries will be back to full operation.

The initial rally in European molybdenum markets, which started last November, propelled oxide prices to a three-and-a-half-year high, which was also the case with ferro-molybdenum prices.

European oxide prices were $13.00-13.20 per lb in-warehouse at the start of March 2018, while ferro-molybdenum hit $30.80-31.80 per kg.

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