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A better year for stainless steel, 2014

London, 6 January 2014

Prevailing sentiment throughout the stainless steel supply chain is one of “cautious optimism” that 2014 will be a little better than 2013, in terms of both business volumes and profitability.

Market participants have been, for some time, expressing the view that activity and prices have been bumping along a prolonged bottom in the business cycle and that that situation is close to its end.

A number of major western industrial nations have begun to record encouraging economic indicators, such as positive GDP growth, increasing manufacturing output and falling unemployment. The Japanese government’s economic stimulus measures, or “Abenomics”, have, at least in the short term, boosted industrial activity in a market that has been in the doldrums for two decades.

MEPS forecast for crude stainless steel production anticipates growing output in all the traditional stainless steelmaking countries and regions – the EU, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. This would be the first time this has happened since 2010. Furthermore, stainless steelmaking capacity continues to grow in the developing markets, despite existing oversupply. We, therefore, predict output in China and other emerging countries to continue to increase slightly faster than in the West.

Nickel values are expected to rise in the early part of this year, despite the enduring global surplus. The medium-term effects of Indonesia’s imminent ban on mineral ore exports remain uncertain. Meanwhile, further hikes in ferrochrome prices are foreseen during the first half of 2014.

Although stainless steel suppliers have, so far, reported no sign of a significant upturn in order tonnages, the belief persists that there will be a moderate increase in activity in the coming months and that 2014 could be the industry’s best year for some time.

Source: MEPS - Stainless Steel Review

 

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