Posted on 04/11/2008 in category Stainless



Brussels,4 November 2008

BIRAutumn Round-Table Sessions

Düsseldorf,30-31 October 2008

StainlessSteel & Special Alloys Committee:

Marketimprovement not before second quarter of 2009

Althoughconsensus on the likely future direction of the market is difficultto achieve, many experts believe stainless steel production andassociated raw material demand will not improve until the secondquarter of next year at the earliest, the BIR Stainless Steel &Special Alloys Round-Table in Düsseldorf was told by its Chairman,Michael Wright of UK-based ELG Haniel Metals.

Basedon opinion from a number of expert sources, Mr Wright’s summary ofthe market outlook indicates slowly rising stainless steel output andincreasing demand for stock replenishment towards the end of 2009.For Europe, he anticipates stainless production of 7.6m tonnes in2008 - compared to the 8.1m tonnes achieved in 2007 - and offered a“best estimate” of “less than 7m tonnes” for 2009.

Reportingon the US market, Barry Hunter of Hunter Alloys LLC said the majordomestic mills have “basically withdrawn from the scrap market”in response to “a lack of new orders and some reportedcancellations of old orders”. The market correction had been“predictable”, he added, whereas “the speed and magnitude ofthat correction unfortunately was not”.

Whilean upturn in demand is likely to take some time to emerge, stainlesssteel “is not going out of fashion”, Mr Hunter remindeddelegates. Limited manufacturing activity reduces the availability ofprompt industrial scrap, low prices restrict general flows of scrapand a lack of mill production constrains the availability of revertscrap - conditions which “must eventually impact need, competitionand price”, he said.

Chinahas not completed any significant imports of stainless scrap in thethird and fourth quarters of 2008, according to the South East Asiareport from Mark Sellier of KMR Stainless BV. Meanwhile, stainlessscrap exports from Russia are likely to fall from 264,000 tonnes in2007 to nearer 230,000 tonnes this year because of the world economicclimate, reported Ildar Neverov of Scrap Market Ltd. The Middle Eastreport delivered by Salam Sharif of Sharif Metals noted that somemills had extended their maintenance closures into September inresponse to more difficult market conditions, including slowerconstruction activity within the region.

Forthe Indian market, Anand Gupta of Ambica Steels - a new recruit tothe board of the BIR Stainless Steel & Special Alloys Committee-spoke of “high” overall stainless scrap availability as a resultof lower demand from domestic producers who have been cuttingproduction by an average of 30-40%. The same speaker also pointed outthat India’s production of stainless steel had increased at anannual average rate of 18.3% over a seven-year period to reach 2.3mtonnes by 2007, with the 200 series accounting for around 85% of thistotal.

Thespecial alloys report provided by Stuart Freilich of Universal MetalCorporation in the USA, and read in his absence by Mr Hunter,confirmed that titanium scrap is currently “very competitivelypriced” in relation to sponge. Although markets will take time torecover, titanium scrap and high-temperature alloys should proveeasier to sell “later next year”, it was ventured.


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