Brazilian steelmakers remain optimistic about the growth prospects for domestic steel consumption. Service centres and traders are however concerned regarding the upturn in the pricing positions being adopted by their domestic suppliers. The majority assert that the latest initiative is unsustainable and does not reflect real demand. Meanwhile, the Instituto Aço Brasil and the Ministry of Foreign Trade (MDIC) expressed their reservations about the US Department of Commerce’s Section 232 investigation.
Trading volumes were stronger than forecast in the Russian Federation. The local distribution chain brought forward their procurement programmes, in anticipation of further price increases from domestic suppliers. Traditionally the construction season commences in mid-April.
Business confidence is unchanged in India. Local service centres are reviewing their inventories and are very cautious about order placement. The rise in the buying price has not yet been reflected in distributors’ sales to end-users. Meanwhile exporters plan to observe the global reaction to the re-opening of the Chinese market, before closing any new deals.
Challenging trading conditions persist in Ukraine. Distributors found it difficult to pass on last month’s price adjustment to their domestic customers. Tight lending conditions continue to hamper investment in construction and infrastructure projects. Moreover, export markets are difficult.
In February, Turkish steel distributors questioned the necessity of the latest round of price hikes. Most of these firms plan to keep stocks to a minimum and only procure material on a requirement basis. Speculation is rife that local steelmakers will push for higher prices in March. Meanwhile Turkish exporters conveyed apprehension following the disclosure that the US Department of Commerce’s Section 232 report advocated, as an option, that steel products from Turkey should be subject to a 53 percent import tariff.
In the United Arab Emirates market sentiment is poor amidst tepid demand. Although inventories are quite modest, many distributors are able to wait before ordering more material. Local forecasters expect demand in 2018 to remain relatively unchanged from the previous year. Export opportunities are limited outside the GCC region.
Purchasing volumes in South Africa are forecast to be stable in the next trading period. Local service centres and traders are optimistic that the business environment will improve under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s tenure. However, mining-related sales and construction demand are slow. Previously, state-funded social housing building and infrastructure programmes failed to fulfil expectations of market participants.
The business climate in Mexico remains tepid. End-users are expected to source more foreign material, blaming their domestic suppliers’ unrealistic price demands. Additionally, the National Chamber of Iron and Steel Industry (CANACERO) called for the Mexican government to impose equivalent and reciprocal trade restrictions on steel imports from the United States, if local producers are, in any manner, penalised under the Section 232 probe.