Quarter 3 stainless steel production surprisingly strong: new all-time-high

Brussels, 18 December 2012. Preliminary figures released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) show that worldwide stainless steel crude steel production has increased after the first nine months of 2012 by 2.9% compared to the same period of 2011. Total production for the first three quarters was 26.1 million metric tons (Mt). This is 0.7 Mt more than in the same period of 2011. Total production for the quarter was 8.3 Mt – a new all-time high for a third quarter. However, there were big differences in the performance of the individual regions.

In Asia (excluding China) stainless steel production decreased slightly by 0.2% to 6.6 Mt. However, the growth rates of the individual stainless producing countries in Asia showed variations ranging from plus 5% (India) to minus 4% (Taiwan, China).

China increased its stainless steel production in the first nine months of 2012 by 7.9% to 11.4 Mt. The country now accounts for about 44% of the world’s stainless steel production. At the same point in 2011, China’s market share was at about 42%. After the first nine months of 2012, Asia (including China) accounts for almost 70% of the world’s stainless steel production and this share is tending to increase.

Note: ISSF has made corrections to Chinese production figures for the entire year in order to accurately compare them with data from 2011. The change was made in accordance with information received from our Chinese source CSSC. Official corrections of the Chinese figures will be issued by CSSC at the end of the year.

Western Europe/Africa now ranks as the world’s third largest stainless producing areas. After nine months of 2012 this region showed a slight increase of 0.7% in stainless steel production. Total production was 6 Mt for the quarter. Within Europe, big production variations have been observed ranging from minus 11% (UK, Sweden, Germany) to plus 12% (Finland).

In The Americas region, stainless crude steel production decreased by 5.5% to 1.8 Mt in the first three quarters of the year. Production in the Eastern Europe region showed a drop of 10.6% to 0.3 Mt.

Table 1: Stainless crude steel production (in ‘000 metric tons)

RegionFull Year+/- %First nine monthsY-o-Y
  +/- %
2010201120112012
Western Europe/Africa 7,878 7,878 0.0 5,980 6,024 0.7
Central and Eastern Europe 340 391 15.2 307 274 -10.6
The Americas 2,609 2,486 -4.7 1,929 1,824 -5.5
Asia (excluding China) 9,011 8,770 -2.7 6,593 6,583 -0.2
China1 11,256 12,592 11.9 10,575 11,407 7.9
World total 31,094 32,116 3.3 25,384 26,112 2.9

Source: International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF)

Looking at the third quarter of 2012 individually, the level of stainless steel production is the highest for any third quarter. However, worldwide production was lower in the third quarter than in the previous three months. This is a normal seasonal variation. In Q3 2012, all major stainless producing areas have seen this contraction which is partially driven by lower demand from end users.

Table 2: Stainless crude steel production (in ‘000 metric tons)

Region Quarter 1+/- %
  Y-o-Y
Quarter 2+/- %
  Y-o-Y
Quarter 3+/- %
  Y-o-Y
201120122011201220112012
Western Europe/Africa 2,216 2,209 -0.3 2,081 2,062 -0.9 1,683 1,753 4.2
Central/Eastern Europe 89 87 -2.6 114 98 -14.1 104 90 -13.7
The Americas 779 607 -22.0 598 613 2.5 553 603 9.1
Asia (excluding China) 2,238 2,226 -0.6 2,134 2,236 4.8 2,220 2,121 -4.5
China 3,476 3,703 6.5 3,529 3,929 11.3 3,570 3,775 5.7
World total 8,799 8,832 0.4 8,455 8,937 5.7 8,130 8,343 2.6

Source: International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF)

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Published: 18/12/2012
Last modified: 18/12/2012

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