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The spike on the LME in recent months has not translated into higher bids for raw materials from Indian manufacturers. Domestic market demand and supply dynamics have been governing prices and, to some extent, Indian manufacturers’ buying has not been following the LME trend. Export demand has been satisfactory but exports have not realized better prices owing to high ocean freight rates.

Recent weeks have witnessed some upward price movement, however, as mills are now looking to rebuild their low raw material inventories.

For the financial year ending in March 2024, the USA remained the top exporter of stainless steel scrap into India, followed by South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia. While imports of both long and flat semi-finished stainless steel products are continuing, mills have started booking scrap again in recent weeks.

Ferro-nickel has become subject to Bureau of Indian Standards certification, thus impacting imports. This is likely to encourage stainless steel scrap imports for the time being.

Meanwhile, leading producer Jindal Stainless has unveiled a three-pronged strategic investment of US$ 650 million in downstream and upstream capacities. There will be a joint venture to develop and operate a stainless steel melt shop in Indonesia with an annual production capacity of 1.2 million tonnes, taking the company’s overall capacity to 4.2 million tonnes.

Jindal Stainless will also invest in its downstream lines in Jajpur to be able to process an increase in melting capacity. It will also upgrade infrastructure, such as railway sidings, sustainability-related projects and renewable energy generation. And through a structured indirect acquisition deal, the company will acquire a 54% equity stake in Chromeni Steels Private Limited, which owns a 0.6 million-tonnes-per-annum cold rolling mill in Mundra.

The national elections are under way in India, with the results to be announced in the first week of June.