2017 closed with a net increase in world steel production. This is borne out by the World Steel Association data (between January and November output rose by an annual 5.4%, to a total 1.53 billion tons). Global consumption also showed clear signs of growth in 2017. And 2018 is also set to be an essentially positive year for steel.
“Global demand is forecast to rise by around 4%, in line with growth in world GDP (+3.6%), driven primarily by the emerging economies,” explained Gianfranco Tosini from the Research Department of siderweb – the Italian steel community, organizer of Made in Steel. “In Europe, we expect to see an increase in steel demand from user industries of around 2%, sharply down from 2017. In particular, real consumption of steel is forecast to rise by 1.5%, against 1.7% apparent consumption.” The euro area economy should grow at a steady pace. The latest ISTAT economic outlook for the Eurozone sees GDP expansion in Q4 2017 and Q1 2018 continuing at the same rate as the four previous quarters (+0.6%), with a slight slowdown only in the second quarter of 2018 (+0.5%).
As regards the raw materials used by the steel industry, nickel prices are expected to rise in the coming months. “Following a trend that is likely to affect all non-ferrous metals, the average price of nickel is forecast to rise compared with 2017 to just over USD 100,000 per ton,” said Stefano Ferrari, head of the Siderweb Research Department. By contrast the, prices of iron ore and carbon coke are expected to fall. According to forecasts by the international financial bodies, the former “will drop by between 8.5% and 28.5% in 2018 from 2017 levels, and subsequent years will see further contractions,” explained Ferrari. Sharp falls in the price of carbon coke are also expected in 2018 compared with the 2017 average.
Looking at the broader picture, “continued expansionary monetary policies, coordinated global growth, expansion of global trade, solid corporate fundamentals and increased earnings should ensure a favourable climate for current growth to continue in 2018”, said Tosini.
“After a gloomy 10 years, we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. 2017 marks a new beginning,” stated Emanuele Morandi, CEO of Made in Steel and chairman of Siderweb. And for 2018 he announced: “New technologies are entering the factory today. But to comprehend the fourth industrial revolution, we need to look at the whole enterprise.”