EU steel market: mixed opinions on demand prospects
Last Update: 29/05/2012 10:34:24
Participants in this week’s annual Platts SBB Steel Markets Europe Conference in Brussels had mixed opinions about the steel business during the second half of the year, as the current uncertainty in the eurozone makes all forecasts difficult. While a number of officials remained positive about a recovery going into 2013, others were showing concern. Robrecht Himpe, CEO of ArcelorMittal Flat Carbon Europe, said his company expects a gradual moderate recovery during the second half of the year, going into 2013, for the flats market. He said inventories are fairly low across the industry and this could lead to a slight pick-up in activity later this year. ArcelorMittal expects a fall of 3% in the apparent demand for flat products this year, while overall steel apparent consumption is expected to correct by 2%. A similar outlook was reported by Jeroen Vermeij, director of market analysis at Eurofer. Despite reduced visibility in the market, a slight recovery was expected during H2 as the market is currently more balanced due to the fact excess stocks are no longer present and the imports opportunities in Europe are reduced, he said. According to Eurofer’s data, steel consumption decreased 8% during H1, but it is expected to fall by a lower figure (3%) overall in 2012, possibly recovering some 2.5% in 2013. Vermeij stressed that the outlook for the manufacturing sector, driven mainly by Germany, was not as bad as expected (+0.50% in 2012). Of a different opinion was Jürgen Nusser, managing director at Eurometal, which remains negative about a possible recovery during H2, mainly due to the seasonal slowdown expected during Q3. He said a double-dip recession in Europe was likely and the uncertainty regarding a number of eurozone economies would probably continue to impact on steel consumption.
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