In the first quarter of 2012, world stainless crude steel output stood at 8.6 million mt, down 2.8 percent year on year, according to the preliminary report released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF).
According to the ISSF data, the biggest decrease appears to be in the Americas region with a 22 percent drop in production during the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Total production is reported to be 0.6 million mt. However, the ISSF noted that there are some discrepancies in US stainless crude steel production statistics which are being investigated. China also showed a decline in production of 1.2 percent to 3.4 million mt compared to the first quarter of 2011. Similarly, the official source of statistical data for the Chinese stainless steel industry, CSSC, has changed its reporting parameters, leading to some uncertainty about the actual level of production in China.
Excluding China, Asian stainless production in the first quarter declined by 0.6 percent to 2.2 million mt, while the Western Europe/Africa region showed an even smaller decline in production of just 0.3 percent. Meanwhile, stainless production fell by 15 percent in Eastern Europe in the year-on-year comparison.
Compared with the fourth quarter of 2011, there is some improvement in production. Western Europe/Africa, the Americas and Asia excluding China increased production, while Eastern Europe and China showed declines. Overall, global stainless steel production was up 2.7 percent in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the quiet final quarter of 2011.
The ISSF does not expect the negative growth rates to continue for the remainder of 2012. The 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, the ISSF expects a slight increase on the record production level achieved in 2011.
Stainless crude steel production (x 1,000 metric tons):
Central and Eastern Europe
Asia (excluding China)
*The CSSC has widened the scope of reporting companies in the first quarter of 2012. Based on the ISSF's own data, the relevant values for China's production in the first and fourth quarters of 2011 have been amended. The amended data is shown in italics.
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