Earlier this year, MBR predicted that metals demand would accelerate and that steel demand would recover, after falling last year.
But the recovery in finished steel consumption, of about 9 million tonnes, would fail to overcome what we estimated at the time was a 28 million-tonne reduction (-2%) in demand the year before.
Our forecast of a comparatively modest revival in demand was based on an expectation that demand in China would reduce for a third consecutive year.
However, the bearishness on China has been challenged all year by the fascinating and unexpected developments in that country. The forecast decline has clearly happened, although seven-months’-worth of data show that this was mainly because of a steep decline at the start of the year.
July is a seasonally depressed month for much of the northern hemisphere, but Chinese consumption actually grew year-on-year by just under 2% – its fastest growth for a couple of years.