Market situation and outlook
According to the World Steel Association, global crude steel production for the first eight months of 2019 amounted to 1,240 (1,188) million tonnes, up 4.4% compared with the same period in 2018. Chinese steel production increased by 9% and steel production in North America by just under 1%, whereas production in the EU-28 decreased by just under 3% compared with the same period in 2018.
In North America, demand for heavy plate was relatively good during the third quarter. However, distributors adopted a cautious sentiment towards the end of the quarter in the wake of falling prices. In Europe, demand was marked by a seasonal slowdown during the first half of the quarter and by weaker underlying demand from several customer segments during the second half. Distributors continued to be cautious as a result of the weak price trend and short lead times. Demand for high-strength steels was somewhat weaker in Europe and North America but remained good in other geographies.
In North America, market prices for heavy plate continued to fall during the third quarter, partly as a result of lower scrap prices. In Europe, market prices for both strip and heavy plate fell, especially towards the end of the quarter. Also in China, market prices for both strip and heavy plate fell during the quarter.
In North America, demand for heavy plate is estimated to be relatively stable during the fourth quarter of 2019. In Europe, underlying demand is expected to be weaker, especially towards the end of the year. Global demand for high-strength steels is expected to be somewhat weaker during the fourth quarter, primarily related to Europe.
For SSAB Americas, shipments during the fourth quarter of 2019 are expected to decrease compared with the third quarter, mainly as a result of a planned maintenance outage in Mobile. Shipments for SSAB Europe are expected to be at the same level as during the third quarter, whereas shipments for SSAB Special Steels are expected to decrease somewhat.
Prices realized by SSAB Americas and SSAB Europe during the fourth quarter of 2019 are expected to be lower compared with the third quarter. Prices realized by SSAB Special Steels are expected to be somewhat lower during the fourth quarter.