Key takeaways from the latest Steel Market Tracker

The latest forecasts from Fastmarkets’ team of analysts are ready to view.

  • Uncertainty and a near complete stop of economic activity in numerous countries around the world froze steel markets and seaborne trade. This has led to sharp price falls or created expectations that prices will drop as soon as markets reopen. The fast-moving nature of events made forecasting particularly challenging, and the shelf life of forecasts can be measured in days if governments swiftly change their approach to quarantine measures or introduce new economic policies.
  • The worldwide spread of the coronavirus has led to downward revisions of macroeconomic forecasts during the past month, changing our view on steel demand dynamics this year. Oxford Economics dropped its forecast for global industrial production in 2020 from 1% growth to a 2% decline, with the slowdown impacting the wide specter of advanced and emerging economies. The automotive sector has implemented temporary factory shutdowns not seen since the World War II; all major steel-users have been impacted by restrictions to travel and business activity. But the downturn is expected to be short-lived, with a rapid bounce-back once lockdowns are lifted.
  • A recovery in manufacturing activity in China was stalled by a slowdown in other parts of the world, hitting export-oriented goods manufacturers. This has negatively affected flat steel orders, already hampered by high stock levels in the supply chain and pushed prices lower. A revival of the construction industry and the government’s infrastructure investment plans provided some support to long steel prices and we expect to see a return of a premium of domestic rebar prices over HRC in China as was the case for the much of 2019.
  • Despite these unprecedented times, US sheet prices have moved in line with our expectations over the past month. While we maintain our view on the direction of pricing during 2020 and the length of the pricing downturn, as the Covid-19 crisis deepens, we have increased the magnitude of the price declines through the second quarter of 2020. Moreover, we maintain our expectations of a V-shaped recovery for the US steel industry, helped by swift action by domestic steelmakers of reducing production and bringing forward planned maintenance outages.
  • An introduction of countrywide lockdowns across the European Union brought steel markets in the region to a halt, while many producers announced output cuts. Steel price declines were limited, but the relative stability was underpinned by the lack of trading, and we expect that prices will tumble in Q2. Similar to the US, prices are forecast to rise in the second half of the year in line with the expected revival of economic activity.

Click here to view the Steel Market Tracker in full. If you are not a subscriber but would like see a free sample report, please click here.

What to read next
The publication of Fastmarkets copper concentrates TC index, cif Asia Pacific was delayed on Friday March 26, due to a reporter error.
After a month-long consultation period, Fastmarkets has refined the delivery terms for its international nickel sulfate price assessments, with Japan and Korea now the only accepted locations.
After an extended consultation period, Fastmarkets has amended the specified brands in its cobalt standard grade and cobalt alloy grade price assessments.
A growing focus by consumers on Scope 3 carbon emissions is putting raw materials, such as bauxite and alumina, in the spotlight
Fastmarkets invited feedback from the industry on the pricing methodology for cobalt sulfate, spodumene and graphite price assessments via an open consultation process between April 13 and May 18, 2023. This consultation was done as part of our published annual methodology review process.
Fastmarkets proposes to amend the specification of its Chinese metallurgical coke export price assessment.
We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.