Global Stainless Production Down 15% in 2009

Recovery began during the third quarter, and output increased 12.5% from July through September

Recently released production data indicates that global stainless steel production fell 15% through the first three quarters of 2009, compared to 2008. However, the International Stainless Steel Forum reports that production increased 12.5% from July through September, versus the similar period in 2008.

ISSF is a Brussels-based trade association representing stainless steel producers worldwide.

The third-quarter rebound was apparent across each of the five regional markets that the trade group studies: China, Asia (excl. China), Western Europe/Africa, Central/Eastern Europe, and the Americas.

Also noted, the increase in stainless production was most apparent for the austenitic (high nickel or chromium) grades, also known as the 300 Series. By contrast, ferritic (lower nickel or chromium) grades, known as the 400 Series, have been in decline due to their common application in automotive exhaust system manufacturing. The 200 Series grades, chromium-manganese or martensitic stainless steels, also lost market share during 2009.

As is now typical, China’s steel industry outpaced its global competitors at producing stainless steel in 2009. Chinese producers increased their stainless output 19.1% in the fist nine months of last year, compared to 2008. China’s actual output for the first three quarters of last year was 6.6 million metric tons, and ISSF indicates that China held 26% of the world’s stainless market share for the period.

Excluding China, the rest of Asia produced 5 million metric tons from January through September of 2009, a 23% drop versus the same period of 2008. Production fell significantly in India and Japan, and leveled in South Korea and Taiwan, ISSF reported.

Stainless production in the Western Europe/Africa region totaled 4.6 million metric tons during the first nine months of 2009, a 31.5% decrease. In North and South America, stainless production fell 1.5 million metric tons, a drop of 22.9% versus the first three quarters of 2008.

In the Central/Eastern European region, stainless output was just 200,000 metric tons, a dramatic decline of 38.2% versus the same period in 2008.

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