CARLSBAD, Calif. The
North American stainless steel market will grow by 4 percent in
2013, down from 6-percent growth in 2012, according to
forecasts by Austrias Steel & Metals Market Research
The North American market will
add 80,000 tons of production volume in 2013, SMR managing
director Markus Moll told delegates at the MSCI Specialty
Metals Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., March 21.
Global stainless volumes will
also grow by 4 percent in 2013, with Europe dragging the trend
down through a predicted 1-percent decline while the Chinese
market looks poised to grow 7 percent, he said.
The North American market is
unlikely to see much change from the "stagnation" of 2012, Moll
said, but noted strong long-term fundamentals for the stainless
industry as the housing sector slowly recovers and a "shale gas
revolution" drives the process equipment end market.
The U.S. industry "upstocked" by
50,000 to 60,000 tons in 2012, but this didnt represent
any notable change in the overall market, Moll said. "I would
say basically the world is not overstocked," he added.
While "the Chinese have become
cost leaders" in the stainless market over the past few years,
with the "cost curve becoming flatter and narrower" as
large-scale production comes online in China, this trend is
likely to change, Moll noted.
"I think the cost curve is
getting even narrower. Some mills will get even bigger, but
getting bigger will not always give them a cost advantage. I
would question whether the Chinese will be cost leaders by
2020. Labor cost appreciation is going up dramatically and
their electricity costs are artificially low right now," he