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US steel use put at 100M tonnes for 2013

Keywords: Tags  World Steel Association, WorldSteel, apparent steel consumption, U.S. automotive market, new car sales, U.S. housing, housing starts, steel Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff

NEW DELHI — U.S. apparent steel demand is on course to reach 100 million tonnes in 2013, the World Steel Association (WorldSteel) said Thursday at its annual conference in New Delhi as it revised its forecast upward by 500,000 tonnes from its prior prediction in April.

The association also revised its expectations for the country’s 2012 demand growth to 96.5 million tonnes, an increase of 2.3 million tonnes.

"The U.S. perhaps is a bright spot for the steel industry in 2012," Hans Jürgen Kerkhoff, president of the German Steel Federation and chairman of WorldSteel’s economics committee, told an audience of global steel executives Thursday during the group’s short-range outlook presentation.

He cited the automotive sector, energy infrastructure spending from the shale gas boom and a "timid" recovery in housing construction as the causes of the increases seen thus far this year.

Demand from the automotive sector is unlikely to continue increasing at the same pace next year, Nae Hee Han, WorldSteel’s chief representative from its Beijing office, told AMM on the sidelines of the conference.

As of September, the U.S. auto industry was on pace to sell 14.94 million vehicles on an annualized basis, according to Woodcliff Lake, N.J.-based Autodata Corp.

"It was a rebound from last year and supply chain disruptions," she said, referring to issues following the Japanese earthquake in 2011. As for whether the "timid" improvements in the housing sector will continue into next year, "we hope so."

New home starts reached a seasonally adjusted rate of 750,000 units in August, up 2.3 percent from a month earlier and 29.1 percent higher than August 2011 levels, according to U.S. Commerce Department data.

Apparent steel consumption in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) region is expected to grow by a "healthy" 7.5 percent in 2012 to 130.4 million tonnes. However, that growth rate is expected to slow to 3.6 percent in 2013, WorldSteel said, pegging the region’s apparent steel usage for that year at 135.1 million tonnes.

On a global basis, apparent steel use is expected to increase 3.2 percent to 1.46 billion tonnes in 2013. That figure was revised downward from an April forecast of 3.6-percent growth (, April 27).

The protracted eurozone crisis and the sharper-than-expected slowdown in China are the two major factors contributing to the association’s "modest" outlook for global steel demand, Kerkhoff said.

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