Researchers at the British global metals tracking firm MEPS expressed surprise at the speed of collapse in steel demand throughout the world. Prior to the fourth quarter of 2008, MEPS researchers predicted a slowdown in the rate of growth in production that had been reported for the first eight months of 2008. However, the quarter-on-quarter reduction in the final three months, at close to 65 million tons, was an unprecedented figure in the history of the industry.

MEPS estimated global steel production in 2008 to have decreased 1.2% for the year as a whole. They also predicted a small reduction for 2009.

According to a MEPS forecast issued Jan. 21:  “The steel market is forecast to remain weak during the first half of 2009 in all parts of the world. Demand for motor vehicles, home appliances and residential properties is likely to remain poor. However, a degree of inventory building should occur but to levels well below those in the first half of 2008. “Many governments are embarking upon plans to stimulate their economies through investment in large infrastructure projects. This is good news for the steel industry in the medium and long term. Unfortunately, this type of spending takes time to become effective.”