Market Intelligence Report - May 2022

The war in Ukraine and Covid-related lockdowns in China are still dominating the news and continue to affect global supply chains, material prices and market stability. In addition, high inflation has an influence on many different industries. As a consequence, interest rates at European banks are on the rise after the US Federal Reserve has increased its interest rate by 0,25% for the first time in years. Despite these factors, prices for materials such as ferroalloys and  oil have been decreasing since they reached their peaks in March.

Market Insights

Materials

Material prices have retreated after all time highs at the beginning of March. Still, prices remain at a high level. 

The German Trade Association Metals warns of magnesium bottlenecks in Germany and Europe. Magnesium is essential for the production of aluminum. Despite this, Aluminum prices have decreased by 17% since their peak and almost returned to the price level before the war in Ukraine began, the price of Nickel even decreased by 45% and seems to have stabilized, not long after trading of it at the London Metal Exchange (LME) was halted in CW10. Steel prices also decreased by 17% to 1.335€/t since the peak price for EU-hot rolled coil, but remain at a very high level (as of CW16). 

Nickel prices declined slightly in April, although they remain at historically high levels. Thus, the average premium to the LME price of nickel briquettes on Metalshub decreased by 350$/mt, but is still four times higher than the average of January and February. 

The good news is that most base metals have seen their price peaks in March, but have started decreasing again despite the ongoing uncertainty in the markets.

Ferroalloys

In April, the European and global ferroalloy markets were characterized by contradictory sentiment and, consequently, price trends. On the one hand, the risk of shortages of some ferroalloys remains on the markets amid the Russian-Ukrainian war. On the other hand, steel production in key countries is declining. Despite good steel consumption figures, steel production in the EU fell by 8.5% in March, while in the first quarter the figure fell by 3.8%. This has a negative impact on the demand for ferroalloys.

Russian supply of ferroalloys to Europe is now hampered by unprecedented sanctions that restrict export opportunities for businesses in Russia. As a result, throughout April the prices of many ferroalloys continued to rise in Europe. These include high-carbon ferrochrome, which rose by more than 30%, ferrotitanium (+18%) and ferrosilicon (+13%). In the case of the latter, the increase in prices was due to the war in Ukraine (one of the key FeSi exporters to the EU market) and the delivery challenges  amid the military blockade of Ukrainian seaports. More data on transaction based price indices and live market insights can be accessed by subscribing to Metalshub price indices.

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