It hasn't happened since 2006: the price
of nickel is gathering pace, accompanied
by a sharp increase in demand
Trend in stainless steel prices10.05.2010
The current situation on the market for stainless steel fasteners is unlikely to have escaped your attention. Below Lederer as one of Europes market leaders would like to provide you with some background information about current developments.
As last occurred during the course of 2006/2007, the price of nickel is currently on a rapid upward trend. Since the start of the year it has risen by almost 50%, between May 2009 and May 2010 it even increased by more than 100%. (Source: London Metal Exchange)
Just to remind you: at around the mid-year point in 2007, the listed nickel price reached its all-time high of USD 55,000. This was followed by a slow decline to around USD 8,000 approximately one year later. Now, though, this too is a level that we are a very long way from returning to.
The price of iron ore, the main raw material in the production of all high-grade and other steels, has increased massively; by two to three times, depending on the period being assessed. Further increases can be expected.
This trend is accentuated by the fact that, in contrast to the high-price phase of 2006/2007 when the weakness of the dollar against the euro absorbed the nickel price trend, the current development of the euro-dollar exchange rate is again pushing up the prices of alloy and iron ore for the euro zone. The turbulent developments on European financial markets in particular (see Greece among others) mean that a further deterioration in the exchange rate trend cannot be ruled out.
Why is this so significant for the trend in the prices of stainless steels?
Nickel is an essential alloying element in almost all stainless steel products; fasteners made from standard working materials A2 (1.4301) and A4 (1.4401) have a nickel content of between 8% and 19%, after all. The tremendous increase in the price of nickel therefore has a direct impact on the development of the prices of stainless steel products.
The explosion in the price of this raw material – accompanied by worldwide growth in the demand for high-grade steel products – has led to a dramatic increase in the prices of stainless steel fasteners. In the segment of material-intensive mass elements in particular, prices have increased by some 50 - 80% since the beginning of 2006 (further double-digit increases cannot be ruled out at present).
Another consequence of the explosive price trend and the strong worldwide increase in demand has been the considerable lengthening of the screw manufacturers’ delivery periods over the past few months. For in addition to the capacity problems caused by the level of demand, the manufacturers are now also faced with delivery problems on the part of their input stock suppliers. Incidentally, these developments, which we cannot influence in any way, are affecting all of the procurement markets; both domestic German manufacturers and those in Europe, the Far East and throughout the world are having to face up to new challenges.