REVIEW OF 2011: A year of shutdowns and uncertainty in Europe

Dec 28, 2011 | 04:08 AM |

This past year has been a tough one for European steel manufacturers.

Steel producers and consumers were plagued with uncertainty over demand in the second half of 2011.

With the European construction market being weak for most of the year, Greece going bankrupt, fears over the need for Spain and Italy to be bailed out, and the downfall of the euro hanging in the balance, people have not been buying steel on a forward-looking basis.

Instead, every consumer, especially the construction sector, has been buying on a hand-to-mouth basis and not booking any further forward than they have to.

This has led to a series of production cutbacks across the European steel-making industry.

In early summer, ArcelorMittal closed a blast furnace at its Florange operation, which consisted of two furnaces that produce slab, coil, coated and galvanized sheet and tinplate.

With maintenance closures over Europe being commonplace, there appeared to be no need to panic. ....

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