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MEPS: Mild recovery in stainless prices forecast for 2013

MEPS (International) : 03 January, 2013  (Special Report)
It's that time of the year when participants in the stainless steel supply chain try to predict how the market will perform in the coming twelve months. Producers and distributors have been hoping, since the global economic crash began in 2008, that an upturn is on the horizon. However, the prevailing consensus, at least in the West, is that 2013 will not be very different from this year.

MEPS' most recent forecast for worldwide crude stainless steel production is for a moderate increase in 2013. The most significant growth is expected to take place in the developing markets, such as India and China. Output in the established stainless steelmaking nations of Europe, North America and the Far East is predicted to fall or grow marginally.

The Eurozone crisis is far from resolved and will continue to subdue industrial demand in the region in the medium term. In the United States, observers feared that the effect of the impending "fiscal cliff" - the combination of tax increases and spending cuts aimed at reducing the budget deficit might have delayed any return to substantial economic growth. In China, the government's most recent stimulus measures should help to promote continued expansion in stainless steel production, albeit not at the rate recorded in recent years.

Mills in Europe and North America have, in recent weeks, started to announce basis price increases for austenitic flat products. Their intention is to try to introduce an element of profitability, which has been lacking for so long, into their operations. These moves are certainly not supported by an uptick in real demand. However, the indications are that they will succeed in raising basis values in the coming months.

MEPS anticipates that the LME nickel cash figure will move in a range between $US17,000 and $US21,000 per tonne during 2013, topping out during the second quarter. Although the maximum value will not be significantly greater than that in 2012, the average value could be around $US2,000 per tonne more than this year.

Grade 304 cold rolled coil basis and transaction prices are also predicted to reach their maximum values in the second trimester of next year. These peaks are expected to be marginally higher than the figures recorded in the early part of 2012.

Source: MEPS - Stainless Steel Review

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