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Robust demand for scrap but availability constrained

The market environment remained challenging in the fourth quarter of 2023. Zero growth was recorded in the Eurozone and the region thus narrowly avoided a recession; for the full year, the economy grew by just 0.5% whereas industrial output shrank.

In this climate, demand for stainless steel flat products in Europe saw a significant, two-digit decline while European production of crude stainless steel fell by some 8% year on year during the first nine months of 2023, according to official numbers from worldstainless. The sharp reduction in stainless steel imports from third countries, however, helped to mitigate the reduction in crude production.

Demand for scrap was robust in the second half of 2023, although depressed manufacturing and slow industrial production left availability in Europe constrained. As a result, imports of stainless scrap into Europe saw a 27% year-on-year increase.

2024 has begun on a better footing, and mills are expecting to increase production and shipments.