Steel demand softened, this month, in many of the emerging steel markets surveyed by MEPS. Distributors are cautious to purchase material, due to uncertainty in both future steel price trends and wider economic conditions.
The prognosis for the Brazilian steel market is unchanged. Steel demand is tepid. Several small price advances were noted, compared with September’s numbers. Buyers feel that current transaction values are unjustified, although the steelmakers are claiming higher figures for next year. The current inflated mill prices are proving problematic for independent distributors who are having difficulties in passing on the increases to their customers.
Russian steel producers are divided over the prospects for domestic steel consumption in the remainder of the final trimester. Service centres are eager to reduce their stocks, concerned that sales activity will be lacklustre, in this period. Construction-related steel demand is slowing down. This trend is expected to continue, as unfavourable weather conditions take hold across the country. Exporters cut prices further, to gain overseas business.
In India, orders, for the local mills, are not expected to improve, significantly, in the near term. Service centres are reluctant to commit to forward orders, anticipating reduced domestic mill prices, during the Festival trading cycle (October to November). Construction activity is limited. Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal is reported to be the preferred buyer of Essar Steel, subject to restrictions and approval by the National Company Law Tribunal.
Chinese stockists are cautious about the strength of underlying consumption in the November-December period. Several firms are only booking material for short-term needs, citing concerns over further price volatility, and the impact of impending government production cuts and rules on pollution. Support from external demand is limited, hindered by antidumping measures in overseas markets.
Business confidence is tepid, in Ukraine. Distributors are buying only what they need to cover immediate orders. They are wary of carrying too much inventory into the country’s winter trading cycle. Price support from foreign demand is limited. The local association of metal producers, Metallurgprom, reported that finished steel production, in September 2018, totalled 1.57 million tonnes – up 3.0 percent, month-on-month.
Arduous trading conditions persist, in the Turkish steel market. End-user demand for finished steel products is subdued, while purchasing activity by stockholders is weak. MEPS is forecasting additional price concessions from domestic suppliers next month.
The Emirati steel industry is struggling to adapt to the unpredictable business environment. Distributors plan to persevere with conservative purchasing strategies, in November, citing the ongoing uncertainty surrounding future industrial activity and a lack of investment in construction.
Downstream demand for finished steel, in South Africa, fell short of market projections. Stockists and traders report that profit margins are being squeezed. With prices continuing to move up, they are only buying for current demand. Traditionally, key consuming industries shut down for a four-week period in mid-December.
Procurement activity in Mexico was less vigorous, this month, than in September. Service centres believe that further price cuts are inevitable, citing a slowdown in construction activity. MEPS notes minimal speculative purchasing. In general, inventories are in balance. Meanwhile, the National Chamber of Iron and Steel Industry (CANACERO) is adamant that it is imperative, for the new government, to obtain exemptions from both U.S. steel import tariffs and Canadian import safeguards.