In the US market, the Stainless Steel CR Coil prices showcased a downswing in the price momentum in the first quarter of 2023 owing to the falling raw material prices amidst the reduced buying sentiments. The number of stocks available in the spot market increased significantly in January. In February, certain Stainless-Steel products saw an increase in imports as high US prices made lower-cost imports more appealing. Companies in Europe and the US frequently rely on imports from Asia to meet their needs, as mills in these regions are often uninterested in large-scale production of grades. Service centers are concerned about rising Stainless Steel CR Coil prices amid the flurry of announcements, but most market participants believe the uptrend will end in the first quarter due to interest rate hikes and pressure on the US economy. Manufacturing output in the United States fell in March due to lower demand, production, and employment. Multiple buyers are concerned that pricing will peak and then fall off in the late second quarter and into the second half of the year. The SS-304 CR plate (6 mm) prices for Ex Florida (USA) settled at USD 6528/MT.
In the first quarter of 2023, the price trend of Stainless Steel CR Coils in the Chinese market remained stagnant. This was due to fluctuating raw material prices and production cuts, and maintenance in several steel mills. During the Chinese New Year, many plant closures caused Chinese stainless-steel producers to halt deliveries temporarily. Despite slow downstream demand recovery, steel plant resources continued to arrive, resulting in high stainless-steel stockpiles and lower resource usage than anticipated. The presence of inventory pressure made it challenging to maintain high stainless steel prices. However, the steel plant resumed production, downstream demand slowly recovered, and inventory remained high. Due to steel plant pressure, raw material prices, particularly ferronickel, have deteriorated. As a result, domestic iron factories implemented production reduction programs since they could not accept market-low pricing for ferronickel below the cost line. Weak demand and large inventory levels caused a decline in earnings, and the Stainless Steel-304 CR Coil (3 mm) prices for Ex Shanghai (China) settled at USD 2580/MT.
In the first quarter of 2023, the European market experienced stagnancy in the price trend of Stainless Steel CR Coils due to slow activity in both upstream coil demand and downstream tube and sheet demand. In January, import offers were not available on the market, and traditional sellers to southern Europe were not quoting, except for limited-time offers for small allocations that expire quickly. Steelmakers secured their order books for the first quarter, and many market participants viewed the increased demand as illusory. Despite European mills attempting to raise `Stainless Steel cold and Hot Rolled Coil Prices in February and March, most countries reported stable values compared to January. Furthermore, lead times for imported Asian-origin material increased, making import purchases less appealing. The mills' bullish mood in March was fueled by tight supply caused by last year's equipment stoppages and technical issues at some of Europe's plants. Consequently, the price of Stainless Steel-304 CR Sheet (2 mm) settled at USD 3199/MT due to limited supply.
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