US stainless steel processor buying prices varied on Thursday following a drop in LME nickel prices and mixed market sentiment.
The daily Davis Index for 304 solids fell by 0.4¢/lb to 89.9¢/lb delivered processor yard and increased for 316 solids by 0.5¢/lb to $1.213/lb for single truckloads.
Scrap 304 turnings were down by 0.7¢/lb to 85.3¢/lb delivered and inched up for 316 turnings by 0.3¢/lb to 1.113¢/lb, delivered processor yard.
LME nickel prices declined from Wednesday by $70/mt with the official three-month LME Nickel contract settling at $18,805/mt on Thursday. The official cash contract closed Thursday at $18,868/mt, down by $357/mt from Wednesday.
Demand for stainless steel scrap has fluctuated this month reflecting the mixed market sentiment and volatile LME Nickel prices. Some processors expect demand to remain strong and then taper off towards November and December, which are historically lean periods for the market. Still, others believe that it will be difficult to gauge any medium-term trends given the unusual circumstances following the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw demand soaring even in summer, which has been a historically low period for the market.
In the meantime, increasing interest from Indian and Chinese buyers in the export market could result in domestic supply tightening amid rising competition between exporters and processors, leading to higher prices for the material.