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European stainless steel surcharges hit four-month lows in May

London — Monthly alloy surcharges on austenitic grades of stainless steel flat-rolled products in Europe for May are set to fall to their lowest levels since January as both nickel and ferrochrome prices have weakened, first mill announcements indicated.

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Surcharge levels had resumed their upward trend in April, hitting fresh multi-year highs.

Finland's Outokumpu, the Continent's largest producer, set its alloy adjustment factor for type 304 (4301) flat products at Eur1,350/mt ($1,466/mt) for May, down Eur105 from April's five-year high.

Dollar-denominated nickel prices on the London Metal Exchange moved briefly back above $10,000/mt in early April but have since come under renewed selling pressure, hitting their lowest level since June 2016 last week at just above $9,300/mt.

The LME nickel cash settlement price has averaged $9,776/mt for April to date, down 4.6% from $10,230/mt for March.

Outokumpu's surcharge for molybdenum-bearing type 316 (4401) flat products was set at Eur1,936/mt for May, down Eur85 from April.

Spot molybdenum oxide prices moved above the $9/lb level in early April, basis Platts' assessments, for the first time since January 2015, but the market has since eased back to trade below $8.80/lb.

Meanwhile, Outokumpu's surcharge for nickel-free type 430 flat products is down Eur39 to Eur769/mt for May.

The European benchmark ferrochrome price negotiated between producers and steel mills was settled at 156 cents/lb for second-quarter 2017, down 11 cents, or 6.7%, from the previous quarter but up 90% from 82 cents lb in Q2 2016. Outokumpu's type 430 surcharge was Eur418/mt in May last year.

--Andy Blamey,

--Edited by Jeremy Lovell,