Friday, October 03, 2008

Steel industry's outlook falters as demand falls

As steel industry executives gather in Washington for their annual conference - to begin this weekend - they will find it hard to maintain their resolutely upbeat stance of recent years.

In the first year of the credit crunch, most steel companies continued to ride high, continuing a remarkable upturn in the sector which started about 2002.

However, since the end of June, the mood has worsened. That is likely to be reflected by sentiment at the annual meeting of the International Iron and Steel Institute, the main trade body for the industry.

The global steel industry, with combined sales of about $1,000bn a year, is hugely susceptible to ups and downs in the world economy as a whole.

In recent months many companies that buy steel have started to reduce purchases on the back of weaker demand in their sectors. Much of this is linked to credit restrictions spreading into the economy.

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The steelmakers are still acting "bullish" on the price front, although it is hard to see how they can escape the world economic reality.

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