US, European prices jump while China softens on restart expectations

Date: Sep 11, 2017

Chinese sellers cut export offers for ferro-vanadium and vanadium pentoxide last week as production-restart expectations alleviated tightness concerns, but limited supplies saw prices jump elsewhere.

  • Chinese sellers cut offers for V2O5 and ferro-vanadium but prices remain unappealing to buyers in Europe and the USA.
  • European prices jump on tight supplies and restocking ahead of the anticipated return of end-users after the summer break.
  • US prices gain as trader profit-taking fades.

Vanadium prices softened slightly in China last week on the anticipation of production restarts in Sichuan after recent environmental inspections and closures.

Inactive exporters in the spot market from recent weeks came back into the international market with offers around $54 per kg for ferro-vanadium, though still too high to be appealing to overseas buyers.

Ferro-vanadium prices were assessed at $54-58 per kg, fob China, on Thursday September 7, down from $55-60 per kg previously, though offers in excess of $60 per kg were still quoted by some sellers.

“Current Chinese prices are still higher than the international market, and it is very difficult to conclude deals at our offers,” the exporter said.

Vanadium supplies are expected to increase in the coming weeks however, as the producers who halted operations after government checks in August restart.

Domestic ferro-vanadium prices have been revised downwards accordingly – dipping by around 10,000 yuan ($1,538) to 180,000 yuan per tonne last week.

The same was true of the fob China vanadium pentoxide market last week. Exporters’ offers were slightly lower compared to the previous week due to anticipations of supply increases, and slight domestic price declines.

Metal Bulletin assessed V2O5 prices in a range of $12.20-12.80 per lb, fob China, on Thursday, down from $12.30-13 per lb previously.

“That still doesn’t mean there’s any reason for the Chinese to export,” a European trader said.

In Europe, V2O5 prices were assessed at $11-11.25 per lb, in-warehouse Rotterdam, on Friday, unchanged from a week earlier.

Sellers continue to target higher prices with indications as high as $11.50 per lb in light of tight availability. However, converters are reluctant to top up on their long-term agreements at existing ferro-vanadium prices, which are widely deemed to be lagging behind gains on oxide.

European ferro-vanadium prices were up 9.6% from last week, settling at $46.75-49.50 per kg, delivered duty-paid in Europe, on Friday.

Prices were supported by a fresh round of buying, with many sellers reluctant to sell in a tightly-supplied and rallying market.

Lots of 5-10 tonnes were more commonly traded, with sellers declining requests to increase volumes, especially with consumers due to return to the market in earnest in the coming days.

“There are small parcels here and there, but the market is really tight, and that’s even without all the consumers here at the moment,” a second trader said.

“I’m declining enquiries because I don’t have much available and the mills will start buying,” a distributor source said.

“I’m really not keen to commit to any [sales] more than five tonnes,” a third trader added.

Smaller volumes – below the threshold of five tonnes required for consideration in Metal Bulletin’s price assessment – traded at a discount, with the tightness more acute for larger parcels.

“Just look one month back and see how much room there is for profit; we’ve had some quiet days and that will look appealing to those holding bits and pieces,” a fourth trader said.

Meanwhile in the USA, ferro-vanadium prices jumped 5.1% up from the previous week as cheap stocks filtered through the market, enabling remaining sellers to hike their offers.

Metal Bulletin assessed ferro-vanadium prices at $20-21.50 per kg, in-warehouse Pittsburgh, on Thursday, compared with $18.75-20.75 per kg previously.

Rapid price gains in July and August had encouraged profit taking in recent weeks, but sellers have been more aggressive in their offers, which are based on August’s average prices.

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