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European stainless surcharges up in February despite nickel price drop

London — Monthly alloy surcharges on austenitic grades of stainless steelflat-rolled products in Europe are set to rise again in February as strongferrochrome prices have offset the recent weakness in nickel prices, firstmill announcements indicated Monday.

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Finland's Outokumpu, the continent's largest producer, set its alloyadjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at Eur1,434/mt ($1,540/mt)for February, up Eur104/mt from January. The February figure is the highestsince October 2014.

Having spiked above the $12,000/mt level for the first time since July2015 in mid-November last year, dollar-denominated nickel prices on the LondonMetal Exchange fell back to close the year at two-month lows and choppy tradeso far in 2017 has seen the market probe repeatedly below $10,000/mt.

The LME nickel cash settlement price has averaged $10,126/mt for Januaryto date, down 8% from $11,010/mt for December.

Outokumpu's surcharge for molybdenum-bearing type 316 (4401) flatproducts was set at a 27-month high of Eur1,947/mt for February, up fromEur1,873/mt in January.

From a low of $6.40-$6.55/lb, basis S&P Global Platts assessments, inmid-December, spot molybdenum oxide prices pushed back above $7/lb in earlyJanuary to hit four-month highs at $7.30-$7.40/lb by the middle of the month.

Meanwhile, Outokumpu's surcharge for nickel-free type 430 flat productswas set at Eur810/mt, up Eur186 from January and hitting a record high inPlatts' records, which go back to January 2007.

The European benchmark ferrochrome price negotiated between producers andsteel mills was settled at 165 cents/lb for the first quarter of 2017, up 55cents/lb or 50% from the previous quarter, and up 79% from 92 cents lb in Q1last year.

Spot ferrochrome prices were also on the rise at the end of last year,with Platts' for high-carbon 65% FeCr peaking at an eight-year high of$1.25-$1.50/lb DDP Northwest Europe in mid-December, before easing back to$1.20-$1.24/lb currently.

--Andy Blamey,

--Edited by James Leech,