Preliminary figures released by the International Stainless Steel Forum (ISSF) show that stainless steel crude steel production in the first three quarters of 2007 was by 20.9 million metric tons (mmt). This is just 0.4% higher than for the first nine months of 2006. Total production for the first nine months of 2007 is just 90,000 tons higher than for the same period of 2006.
Comparing the third quarter of 2007 with the same period of 2006 there is a 16.6% decrease in stainless crude steel production to 5.9 million tons. The decrease in production occurred across all regions.
The quarter by quarter production 2007 shows a clear downward trend driven by high nickel prices and the need to reduce the global stock of stainless steel. However, ISSF believes there is a generally healthy underlying demand for stainless steel.
Western Europe/Africa region has the most significant decline in production for the first nine months of 2007. The region produced 6.5 mmt of stainless steel, drop of almost 13% compared to the same period of 2006.
In the same period, The Americas region decreased their stainless crude steel production by 12% to 2 mmt.
Asia showed accumulated stainless crude steel production of 12.2 mmt for the first nine months of the year. This is 12.2% higher than in the same period of 2006. The main contributor again was China with a total increase of more than 45% compared to the same period of 2006. China produced 5.2 mmt in the period. India slightly increased production to 1.3 mmt. With roughly 3 mmt Japanese production was almost stable.
Production in the Central/Eastern Europe region was also reasonably stable.
The quarter by quarter figures show a clear downward direction in stainless steel production during 2007. After Quarter 1, global output was 15% higher than in the same period of 2006. Production in Quarter 2 was just 3.6% higher compared to the previous year. Production has decreased by 16.6% in Quarter 3. Even in Asia third quarter production in 2007 did not reach the same level as the corresponding quarter of 2006.