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European 304 stainless steel surcharge hits 17-month low in Feb

London — Monthly alloy surcharges on austenitic grades of stainless steel flat-rolled products in Europe are set to fall for a seventh successive month in February, first mill announcements indicated Monday.

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Finland's Outokumpu, the continent's largest producer, set its alloy adjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at Eur1,228/mt ($1,396/mt) for February, down Eur46/mt from January to the lowest level since September 2017.

The surcharge hit a seven-year high, basis S&P Global Platts records, at Eur1,647/mt in July before retreating, primarily on lower nickel prices.

Three-months nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange moved lower through much of December, bottoming out at a 15-month low of $10,530/mt on January 2, though the market has since moved back above $11,000/mt. Through Friday, the LME nickel cash settlement price averaged $11,191/mt for January to date, up from 10,837/mt in December.

Outokumpu's surcharge for molybdenum-bearing type 316 (4401) flat products was set at a 13-month low of Eur1,903/mt for February, down Eur73/mt from the previous month and 21% lower than July's seven-year high of Eur2,416/mt.

Spot molybdenum oxide prices have come under severe downward pressure since the turn of the year, falling below $11/lb for the first time since last July. The Platts daily molybdenum oxide price assessment stood at $10.65-$10.80/lb Friday, down from $12.00-$12.10/lb a month earlier.

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Outokumpu's January surcharge for nickel-free type 430 flat products fell Eur58/mt from January's level to Eur606/mt, the lowest since September 2017.

The first-quarter 2019 European ferrochrome benchmark price fell for the third successive quarter to 112 cents/lb from 124 cents/lb in the fourth quarter of 2018.

--Andy Blamey, andy.blamey@spglobal.com

--Edited by Daniel Lalor, newsdesk@spglobal.com