Aufschwung der Stahlpreise weltweit Anfang 2012 erwartet
Global steel price upturn anticipated in early 2012. The West European market is very quiet in the run up to Christmas.
In the US, some of the mills’ proposals for flat product transaction price increases have been implemented. Producers are now in the process of announcing further, cost driven, advances of $US40/50 per ton. However, the hikes already secured only apply to a small volume of business. Prior to the rises taking hold, many companies placed orders for December production at big discounts. It is conceivable that buyers will not purchase sufficient tonnages after the holidays to keep the higher values in place. There are very few foreign offers at present. November import licence applications hit a nine month low. However, US transaction numbers are now significantly ahead of those in other parts of the world and this could well attract the attention of overseas suppliers.
The West European market is very quiet in the run up to Christmas. Demand is weak and activity levels low. End-users are buying ‘hand to mouth’. However, distributors have started to place orders for period one delivery, to avoid possible shortages following the mills’ end of year production stoppages and capacity cuts. Those deals that have been concluded have resulted in transaction figures lower than those reported in November. In some instances, these numbers only cover January/February production, as steelmakers would like to implement increases before the end of the first trimester.
Chinese prices continued to decline in late November/early December due to sluggish downstream demand. The leading steel mills have scaled down some of their official ex-works figures for January bookings. Traders, constrained by high financing costs, have continued their destocking process and producers have started to reduce output as economic growth is forecast to slow next year.
As the Japanese automotive and industrial machinery sectors steadily recover, steel order receipts from overseas are dropping due to a slow Asian market, the impact of the Thai floods and the historically strong yen. Stocks remain in surplus, despite a marginal fall in the inventory held by steelmakers and service centres in October. Moreover, import volumes continue to escalate. Producers began to curb domestic output in late October but the impact on the market has yet to be felt.
Overall demand is soft in South Korea. Inventory adjustment is slow. Domestic stocks of flat products continued to surge during October after reaching record highs at the end of September. However, export sales are growing rapidly, due to the weakness of the won.