Steel seen short for first time in decades

June 25, 2008

Manufacturers worldwide can expect to see the first shortage of steel in decades, according to the head of the world’s largest steel company.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Lakshmi Mittal, the chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, said steel is in short supply, and mills are running at full capacity.

Mittal said steel production has not kept up with demand because steel producers did not invest in production facilities when prices were lower.

The price for steel was at $1,225 a ton, a record high, on June 24, on the London Metal Exchange.

Meanwhile, copper was trading at a record $8,880 a ton in April for delivery in 90 days. Copper 90-day contracts are benchmark contracts for the London Metal Exchange.

Copper prices slipped somewhat since April, and the metal was trading at $8,491 a ton on June 25. However, copper prices have steadily advanced for six consecutive years, driving up prices for brass and bronze, alloys for which copper is a primary component.

The London Metal Exchange launched its first steel-futures contract trading in April, despite opposition from leading steelmakers including U.S. Steel Corp. and Mittal Steel.