Purchasing estimates that U.S. steel purchasing will have dropped 9% to 108 million net tons in 2008 when final statistics are tallied. And now, the analysts at Fitch Ratings forecast at least another 5% decline in buying in 2009 to 103 million. That means that production will remain weak and pricing will stay depressed. And, the United Steelworkers union expects 20,000 workers to be furloughed in 2009.
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The situation in the US is reflected in Europe where we have seen a massive decline in steel sales. production has been severely cut back by steelmakers to try and avoid a collapse in prices.
Talking to the stockholders on returning to work after the Christmas break, brings no optimism, as we see manufacturers (particularly automotive related), making cutbacks in an attempt to survive the recession.