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International distribution and services in high-performance materials

Energy and price development: acting and not reacting

At the moment, the stainless steel market is, how could it be otherwise, dominated by the topic of energy. Now, in April/May 2022, we advised our customers not to buy too much stainless steel. The recommendation was correct, because what goes up, comes down. Today, although nickel is at the same price level (USD 20,500) as in February and we hardly talked about energy costs at that time, we are on average 20% below the price level at that time. The last time we had today's price level was in the summer of 2021 when nickel was at USD 16'000. At the same time, mills are announcing that they are drastically cutting capacity (Arvedi/AST and Acerinox) and introducing energy surcharges of between €300 and €500, which will go up to €1000 in the medium term. How can this be? It is not only politicians who are going crazy, but also the markets. Realistically, the price for stainless steel should be around € 4, but in fact it is sometimes well below € 3.50. When the prices suddenly rose rapidly in March, buyers knew no stopping, the material is now lying in the warehouses and is only slowly finding acceptance. Although it should be clear to everyone that prices will rise significantly soon, we are confronted with sell-out prices. We are also seeing exorbitant prices on the energy markets at the moment and, as back in March, speculation and futures markets are having a negative influence on price discovery. Filling the storage facilities "by hook or by crook" leads to extreme price increases on the "spot market"; as soon as the storage facilities are filled, the situation will calm down. Then it will get interesting again in February / March, depending on how cold the winter was, whether the French nuclear power plants are running again and how well the economy is doing. If there really is a recession and we reach a 10% energy savings target, there will be no problem. When Japan had the Fukushima disaster in 2011 and had to shut down all its nuclear power plants, we didn't notice it in our supply of stainless steels. The plants had switched 100% to night shifts within a very short time.        






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8600 Dübendorf
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