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Procrastinating the prognosticating: 2013 metals industry survey

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If American business--and the metals sector especially--selected a word of the year, 2012’s winner would have been an easy choice: uncertainty.

At conferences and roundtables, at corporate meetings and in interviews, metal industry executives and analysts invoked uncertainty throughout the year, both as an explanation for why growth had been slow and as a sort of talisman to ward off undue optimism about intermittent economic upswings.

Uncertainty also may be the word of the year in 2013, judging by the views put forward in AMM’s annual survey of metals sector executives. Consider: The re-election of President Obama will make the business climate more uncertain, but business still should be better off in 2013 than in 2012. On the other hand, the overall U.S. economy likely will be stagnant for another year or more, that same overall U.S. economy will contribute heavily to finished metal products pricing, and the energy and auto sectors will dominate the end-user market for various metals.

These are the views that leading metal players and AMM readers expressed in a November poll about what lies ahead in 2013. The results offer a glimpse into what people think about issues that affect the metals industry. For instance, only 18 percent of survey respondents said that they were less optimistic about business heading into 2013.

To complement our annual survey results, we’ve gathered analysts and experts from a variety of metals businesses and asked them to share their views on what fortunes--or misfortunes--the new year might bring.

And to get an even more in-depth look at the steel industry’s prospects, AMM is once again hosting two conferences in January and February.

AMM’s 18th Annual Mexican Steel Forum from Jan. 28 through Jan. 30 in Monterrey will bring together leading industry players from Mexico and elsewhere to discuss market shifts and their implications for business. With more than 250 delegates, including representatives from commodity providers, Mexican and foreign steel producers, service centers, distributors, processors, original equipment manufacturers and leading construction and automotive companies, last year’s forum brought the entire supply chain under one roof. This year’s event promises to be just as well-attended and even timelier: As foreign automotive companies set up shop within Mexico, the entire supply chain is being stimulated, creating new opportunities.

AMM’s 6th Annual Steel Tube and Pipe Conference on Feb. 4 and 5 in Houston is one of the leading tube and pipe events in North America. Speakers from throughout the oil country tubular goods and line pipe industry supply chain will come together to discuss how producers and distributors should position themselves for future demand, how companies can improve supply-chain management, how governments can maintain a fair balance between international and domestic supply, and other pressing challenges and opportunities.

For more information on these conferences, click here.


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