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Stainless output rising in China, declining elsewhere

Recycling Today have reported a significant divergence in stainless steel production trends between China and the rest of the world during the first nine months of 2023. Here’s a summary of the key points:

Global Stainless Steel Production (First Nine Months of 2023):

  • Worldwide stainless steel mill melt shop production increased by 2.5% to 42.6 million metric tons compared to the same period in 2022.
  • This growth, however, masks a considerable disparity between China and the rest of the world.

China’s Stainless Steel Production:

  • China experienced a substantial increase in stainless steel output, with a growth of more than 12% in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the previous year.
  • Output in Chinese melt shops specifically rose by 13.4% during this period.

Rest of the World’s Stainless Steel Production:

  • In contrast, stainless steel production in other regions faced declines during the same period.
  • Europe saw an 8% reduction in output in the first nine months of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.
  • The United States experienced a more significant decline of 12.9% in stainless steel production.
  • Asia (excluding China and South Korea) recorded a decrease of 12.4%.
  • The “others” category, including countries like Brazil, Russia, and South Africa, reported a 13.2% decline.

Quarterly Production Trends:

  • Production declines were observed quarter to quarter in regions like Europe and the U.S. throughout 2023.
  • In the U.S., stainless steel production declined from 478,000 metric tons in the first quarter to 442,000 metric tons in the third quarter of 2023.
  • Europe experienced a similar pattern, with production dropping from 1.64 million metric tons in the first quarter to 1.27 million metric tons in the third quarter.

Impact on the Stainless Steel Scrap Market:

  • The growth in stainless steel output in China is noted to have limited consequences for the global stainless steel scrap market. Chinese mills rely more on mined nickel pig iron material.
  • On the contrary, the restrained output in Europe and the U.S. has had implications for the scrap market in those regions, putting a cap on demand and influencing pricing.

In summary, while China has seen a significant increase in stainless steel production, the rest of the world, particularly Europe and the U.S., has experienced declines, affecting the dynamics of the global stainless steel and scrap markets.

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