Stainless Steel Strip---Global Crude Stainless steel production to hit an all time high

Commodity Online reported that surge in production in China while moderate growth or contraction in many other parts of the world would lead to a record output of 36.4 million tonnes of stainless steel in 2013, according to MEPS International. A year on year increase of 7% is forecast for 2013, giving a total outturn of over 17 million tonnes.

Stainless steelmaking in the established markets of the EU, United States and the Far East remain below the pre-crisis peak of 2006. Chinese production has more than tripled since that time.

The other established stainless steel producing nations in the Far East are not faring so well, in competition with the burgeoning Chinese industry. With subdued purchasing at home and in traditional export markets, output in Taiwan and South Korea is predicted to decrease this year, compared with 2012. The situation in Japan is improving slightly and a marginal increase in crude stainless steel production is anticipated, to give a total of over 3.1 million tonnes.

There have been some positive results in economic indicators from the United States. Output in the first half of 2013 has matched expectations and we have uprated our forecast for the remainder of the year, to give an annual total of more than 2 million tonnes an increase of over 2% year on year.

Industrial activity in the European Union remains depressed. The countries in the south of the continent have shown little sign of recovery. Even in Germany, where the effects of the financial crisis were offset by strong sales of cars and other consumer goods to Asia, the economy has slowed. Our forecast for total 2013 production has been revised downwards to 7.325 million tonnes, a reduction of nearly 2% on last year’s figure.

The situation regarding Outokumpu’s divestment of the former Inoxum plant at Terni, in Italy, has not been resolved. The deadline for the sale necessary to satisfy EU competition rules has been extended, as the Finnish group have not received any bids that they find satisfactory. Whilst it is expected that production will continue at Terni, whoever the new owners may be, it is clear that there is overcapacity in the European stainless steel sector. At least one of the leading players will have to reduce their steelmaking capabilities in the medium term.