Asian stainless steel prices remain stable
Asian stainless steel prices remain stable

31 January 2024 – Asian stainless steel prices remain stable and continue to rise slightly. In the run-up to the Lunar New Year celebrations, steel and stainless steel production is also expected to be cut. And the strong US labor market and lower borrowing are surprising the US bond market positively.

Asian stainless steel prices remain stable

Since the beginning of January, prices for stainless steel in Asia have remained stable despite extensive attempts to exert pressure on nickel prices and in some cases have risen by more than 2.4% in the austenitic 200 (e.g. 201) and 300 (304, 304L, 316L) series. This is also confirmed by Taiwan, where the major manufacturers and mills are keeping prices stable for February due to continued high costs.

Prices for ferritic stainless steels in the 400 series (430, 409L, 439), which are largely independent of the price trend for nickel, remain stable.

Stainless scrap prices up 2%

Asian stainless steel scrap prices, which account for around 90% of raw material costs for stainless steel mills, especially in Europe, have remained stable since mid-January following a jump of around 2%.

In the run-up to the Asian Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year holidays, there are also the first reports of production cuts in steel and stainless steel from Asia.

Strong US labor market and less debt

A strong US labor market in December 2023 and less borrowing by the US government in 2024 dominated the US government bond market yesterday, trying to push it in different directions.

Highest job openings in three months

The number of job openings rose in December from the previous month to the highest level in three months – a decline had been expected. At the same time, the number of layoffs fell to its lowest level since January 2021.

The robust US labor market suggests that the Fed could still take its time with interest rate cuts. Revisions to assumptions of high interest rate declines this year could push up bond yields again. Although today’s Fed meeting will not result in a rate hike, it will certainly provide new insights into the Fed’s assessment of the situation.

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