The British metals research firmMEPSissued its most recent forecast of North American stainless steel prices on August 3, 2009, and predicted “some price slippage during the fourth quarter of 2009. A possible drop in LME nickel values could also put downward pressure on stainless steel transaction values over this period. Rising molybdenum and chrome costs could offset some of these reductions,” said the MEPS analyst.
This forecast looked beyond the firm’s prediction that “alloy surcharges for austenitic grades will move higher again in August 2009.” MEPS based that assessment on distributors refilling depleted inventories. “However, sales to end-users are forecast to stay low throughout the remainder of 2009. Re-stocking by service centers may be kept to a minimum in the run-up to the financial year end.”
MEPS posited that rising raw material costs, increased consumption and federal stimulus plans should boost stainless steel prices during the first half of 2010. “However, we do not envisage prices moving back to the 2008 levels. Market demand is likely to be slow to recover.”
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