Sales of austenitic and ferritic stainless cold rolled sheet through Japanese coil centers in December 2018 dropped 6.1% year on year, and fell 6.8% from November to 55,640 mt, according to the latest data released last Friday by the Japan Stainless Coil Center Association, or JSCA, showed.
JSCA officials were unavailable for comment Monday.
However, a Tokyo-based stainless distributor said demand for stainless CR sheets have been firm.
“I understand that the drop was because the sales in December 2017 was high, so the sales in December was not bad,” he said.
Within the total sales, austenitic CR sheet dropped 10.5% year on year and 9.5% from November at 28,016 mt, while sales of ferritic CR sheet tumbled 0.1% year on year, and by 4% on month at 27,624 mt.
Another distributor in Tokyo said the drop in sales of austenitic CR sheet was due to the cut in prices by producers.
“Some customers might be waiting for market prices to fall, but distributors are still trying to shift previous hikes by producers, we don’t think market prices will fall soon,” he said.
Japan’s largest stainless producer, Nippon Steel & Sumikin Stainless, had cut prices by a total of Yen 45,000/mt ($411/mt) since August for austenitic CRC, while the company had cut ferritic CRC prices by a total of Yen 10,000/mt since November, S&P Global Platts had reported.
Current market prices of 2mm thick 304 grade CR sheet in Tokyo is around Yen 360,000/mt ($3,291/mt) and those for 2mm thick 430 grade CR around Yen 270,000/mt, both unchanged from a month ago, distributors said.