World Stainless Steel Production Shrinks Slightly in First Quarter of 2012
Jul 27, 2012
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Preliminary data from the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) shows global stainless steel production shrank 2.8% in the first three months of 2012. Total production was 8.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) for 1Q 2012, down from 8.8 Mt in 1Q 2011. ISSF said all areas showed a decrease in production in the year-on-year comparison.

ISSF noted some discrepancies in statistics for the Americas, which are being investigated. Current data shows the Americas region dropped 22% in production in the first quarter of the year, with total production reported to be 0.6 Mt. This information could change once ISSF clarifies the discrepancies.

China production of stainless steel declined 1.2% to 3.4 Mt. ISSF noted that CSSC, the Chinese source for this data, changed reporting parameters, leading to some uncertainty about the actual level of production in China. CSSC widened the scope of reporting companies in the first quarter of 2012.

Stainless steel production in other Asian countries decreased 0.6% to 2.2 Mt in the first quarter of 2012. The Western Europe/Africa region showed a smaller decline in production, just 0.3%. Stainless production fell 15% in Eastern Europe.

There is some improvement in production when 1Q 2012 is compared to 4Q 2011:
* Western Europe/Africa is up 16.5%
* the Americas are up 9.0%
* Asia excluding China is up 2.3%
* Eastern Europe is down 9.8%
* China is down 5.0%
* Globally, stainless steel production was up 2.7% in 1Q 2012 compared to 4Q 2011

ISSF does not expect the negative growth rates to continue for the remainder of 2012. Its current perception is that markets will be driven by real demand and some restocking will occur in the second half of the year. For the full year 2012, ISSF expects a slight increase on the record production level achieved in 2011.

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