COLUMN-Stainless steel surge impacts nickel and ferro-chrome – by Andy Home (Reuters U.S. – October 11, 2016)

LONDON, Oct 11 Global steel demand will rise by a meagre 0.2 percent this year, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). Next year won’t be much better with a forecast of just 0.5 percent growth. But it could have been worse. The WSA has upped its forecasts from April, when it was expecting demand to fall by 0.8 percent this year.

The improvement is all about China, where production and demand have been lifted by the government’s latest stimulus package, another push of the infrastructure and construction buttons. Within the steel universe, however, one sector is faring much better.

Stainless steel production rebounded strongly in the first half of this year, thanks again to China. And that has implications for two of the metallic inputs into the stainless production process, nickel and ferro-chrome.

The latter is one of those metals that trades largely in the shadows for want of exchange-traded pricing.But that may be about to change with the London Metal Exchange (LME) eyeing a potential new contract.

Global stainless production rose by 4.1 percent to 22.1 million tonnes in the first half of this year, according to the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF). That represents both a strong recovery from last year, when production fell by 0.3 percent, and an outperformance relative to total steel production, which fell by almost two percent over the same period.

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