After many months of unchanged stainless steel basis values in the United States, they seem to be on the up. Inventories have been pared back to minimum levels and demand is improving consistently if not spectacularly. Strengthening LME nickel values over recent months will mean steadily climbing surcharges in the short term.
The forthcoming hikes in flat product basis prices, which have reportedly been mooted by all the US stainless producers, are almost certain to succeed. Higher basis numbers for long products, announced by some of the smaller mills during the fourth quarter, have now been adopted by the major players and will be in force from January 2011. Transaction figures for flat products will drop in January due to the lower surcharge. Thereafter, the MEPS North American Average Forecast for grade 304 cold rolled coil anticipates prices increasing in each of the following six months.