The global steel market, which is known to closely follow the macroeconomic trends, is inevitably impacted by the current economic slowdown, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (as of May 2020, total output in 64 leading crude steel-manufacturing countries was about 149 mln tonnes, a year-on-year drop of about 9%, according to the World Steel Association). Though some recovery is on its way in different regional steel markets (owing to demand restoration in steel-consuming sectors), the recuperation process will be slow and bumpy. For instance, crude steel production in China currently outperformed the levels recorded a year earlier (a year-on-year increase of over 4% as of May 2020). However, with many regional markets (the US, Japan, India, Brazil, the EU, and CIS countries, etc.), crude steel production still falls short of the pre-COVID period. Therefore, different steel markets exhibit varied dynamics.
At the corporate level, the same downward trend characteristic of the current pandemic times was palpable. For example, ArcelorMittal’s operating performance in Q1 2020 was considerably affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The company’s crude steel production dropped from 24.1 million tonnes in Q1 2019 to 21.1 million tonnes in Q1 2020. In value terms, the drop was even more significant as sales decreased from USD 19,188 million in Q1 2019 to USD 14,844 million Q1 2020. However, the downward trend in steel manufacture by ArcelorMittal was vivid even before the pandemic throughout the whole 2019.
As alluded before, the steel market dynamics varied on a regional level. The corporate dynamics varied too from company to company. For example, consolidated steel production by Tata Steel Group increased 5% year-on-year to 28.46 million tonnes in the financial year of 2019/2020 (the financial year in India begins from April 1 and ends on March 31). Of course, the financial year of 2020/2021 might be different for Tata Steel as the full consequences of COVID-19 only started to unveil in India around May-June 2020.
Find more information on the steel industry in the comprehensive research report “Steel Industry: 2020 Review and Forecast>”.