The British metals tracking and forecast firm MEPS predicts global stainless steel production at 20.8 million tons in 2009. The Western world figure (excluding China and Russia), at 13.5 million tons, would be the lowest since 1994 and the third consecutive annual decline in stainless steel output. U.S. production is expected to finish at around 1.5 million tons, the lowest recorded since 1982.

MEPS did predict a recovery during the second half of the year due to inventory building ahead of higher prices resulting from an increase in the cost of nickel. Alloy surcharges are likely to increase, according to MEPS.