Short Range Outlook : February 2018

Global supply-demand balance for long products still looks good but caution needed on supply side

While the supply and demand balance in the global long steel products market still looks good, the supply side is gearing up. Supply pressure is not expected to create big problems in the short run but may be an issue in the medium term if demand is not able to cope with it. Even Chinese companies have learned that dollars are more important than tonnages. Accordingly, everybody needs to be careful when thinking about adding more tonnes.

Limited supply of Chinese steel is the biggest positive in the global market

GDP is improving worldwide, with the main economies performing quite well. Demand is stable in Europe, and multiple other markets are performing quite well also. That said, the limited supply of Chinese steel is the biggest positive in the global market. China is still holding back and it looks like it will not be back in the export market after the Chinese New Year holiday, which is certainly a very optimistic sign for the market.

Though prices weaken a little in Europe, EU and US drive global consumer optimism

Pricesin the European market have come down a bit due to weakening prices in Turkey and the strengthening of the euro. Nevertheless, the positive mood especially in the EU and US is giving confidence to long steel consumers worldwide.

Strong rebar demand in major consumption areas

As regards the short term, the situation has worsened due to the declines in Chinese steel prices and in scrap prices. However, the prospects in the medium term are brilliant because demand for rebar is strong in the major consumption areas. Hopefully, after the Chinese New Year holiday, the market will move again and scrap prices will rebound, pulling rebar prices up once more.

Wait for Section 232 outcome causes some uncertainty in US market

Demand has been steady in the US with the potential to improve in future months; however, supply in the US is limited. The unknown fate of Section 232 is holding back imports, giving domestic mills the opportunity to increase their prices. This situation may change quickly depending on the results of Section 232.

Reasonable demand and positive sentiment in major Latin American countries

Demand in the major Latin American countries is reasonable, accompanied by positive sentiment in relation to the forecast for 2018. Price adjustments may be seen in the very short term but still not affecting the interesting spread levels. Market prices are expected to trend upwards after the Chinese New Year holiday.

Scrap demand to remain at decent levels in EU and US

The long-awaited correction in ferrous scrap was seen in January despite demand being fairly stable. Decent demand in the steel sector will continue to keep scrap demand at decent levels for the coming month in the European and US markets, since the influx of imports is at subdued levels.

Prices for electrodes to remain challenging

Electric arc furnaces (EAFs) will be faced with challenging prices for electrodes not only in spot trades but also for longer-term contracts as supply restrictions mainly in China reverberate in the global market.The cost difference between blast furnaces and electric arc furnaces will bring scrap prices to reasonable levels.

Depreciation of dollar, oil prices above $65 and unchanged US Fed rates provide support

The weakening of the US dollar, which has depreciated by almost another four percent against the euro compared to one month ago – which means that prices in the EU have appreciated almost by $25/mt just because of exchange rate – continues to ensure that commodity prices are at high levels. Oil prices are above $65 a barrel and the US Federal Reserve has kept interest rates at unchanged levels. These are all positive factors supporting the current atmosphere.

Weaker US dollar and balanced world trade to keep steel and scrap prices elevated

The weaker US dollar coupled with the increased balancing of world trade will likely mean that prices for steel and scrap will maintain somewhat elevated levels as compared with recent years.

Competition is mostly at reasonable levels

Competition in the market is mostly at reasonable levels. However, mills’ margins are sufficient for them to be able to reduce prices to become more competitive if they have to. Currency fluctuations in late January made the environment somewhat challenging and will likely also have trade implications going forward.

Outlook for next quarter is satisfactory

The market can be described as mostly stable and looks set to continue like this, with some exceptions. The outlook for the next quarter is satisfactory.



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