MEPS forecasts global stainless-steel output will rise 4.7% in 2019, weaker than the 2018 estimate that output was up 7.6% Y/Y at 51.75 million tons. Yet, if these estimates hold, it would still remain a record year for global output.
US stainless-steel output likely increased by 50,000 tons to 2.85 million tons in 2018. MEPS expects output growth to trend moderately upward at 2% in 2019.
Global consumption rates are expected to absorb this additional output, keeping prices stabilized in 2019 based on current global manufacturing and economic growth forecasts.
Input prices into stainless PFF are mixed. Current nickel prices are $5.58/lb., 11.6% higher than mid-January’s $5.00/lb. levels but moderately weaker than the 2018 high which was set in June of $7.00/lb. Battery demand worldwide will accelerate throughout 2019 and across the next decade; second-generation lithium-ion batteries will increase global nickel demand.
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