The stainless steel industry is currently heavily impacted, of course, by COVID-19. The focus at the start of the pandemic’s spread to Europe was very much on personnel’s health & safety and the continuation of production, and some positive results from all the related efforts have certainly been seen. Major EU stainless producers are back in production, although clearly to differing extents; everyone has restarted their most important outlets.
The focus now is on evaluating demand and therefore capacity utilization, but here almost nothing is clear.
What is evident, however, is that PMIs are dropping significantly. For example, Germany’s IFO index has fallen from 85.9 to 74.3, the lowest level ever recorded. Therefore, a sharp reduction in stainless production is expected. One positive aspect could be the anticipated decline in stainless imports into EU markets, which could support Europe’s own producers.
Demand for stainless scrap will remain at a low level, with a further reduction expected for the summer months.