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US stainless sheet transaction prices soften on lower surcharges

Pittsburgh — Despite base prices holding firm, US cold-rolled stainless sheet transaction prices dipped slightly to start May as raw material surcharges softened from April levels, sources said Monday.

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US stainless producers held base price discounts firm throughout April, following an announced price increase that took effect with new shipments April 1, sources said.

US mills previously announced they would be raising prices for all 200 and 300 series grades and type 430 cold-rolled stainless coil and sheet through a reduction in functional discounts of two percentage points.

Overall, stainless sheet demand softened in April over the highs seen in March, but it seemed to be picking up again slightly as of the end of last week, a service center source said.

Current lead times for domestic mills have retreated slightly from March, with mills currently quoting four to six weeks, sources said, down from the five- to eight-week wait heard heading into April.

Raw material surcharges for US stainless sheet, meanwhile, will be down slightly month on month in May, according to raw material levies published by domestic mills in late April. North American Stainless, ATI, AK Steel and Outokumpu set surcharges for Types 304 and 316 at 56.84-56.87 cents/lb and 73.87-73.91 cents/lb, respectively. Type 304 stainless is down from 60.12-60.17 cent/lb in April, while Type 316 is down from 76.02-76.09.

"Transaction prices are really just following surcharges lower," a second service center source said. "I haven't seen any change in base prices."

The first service center source said there is a bit of pressure on prices, but they didn't expect to see much near-term change.

"I think we're going to stay in this range through the summer," the first service center source said.

S&P Global Platts on Monday assessed Type 304 stainless sheet transaction prices at 117-120 cents/lb, down from the previous month's 120-123 cents/lb. Type 316 stainless was assessed at 154-158 cents/lb, down from 156-160 cents/lb.

Type 430 stainless sheet transaction prices were assessed at 92-95 cents/lb, down from 93-96 cents/lb.

--Justine Coyne,

--Edited by Valarie Jackson,