SAIL, Tata Steel Expect India Steel Demand to Rise

NEW DELHI — Steel Authority of India Ltd. and Tata Steel Ltd. said Thursday steel sales will likely climb in the quarter through March on a rise in demand from key sectors, including automobiles and construction.

“Sales in March are going to be higher than March last year…we will also do better than February, when we grew 9% (on year),” S.K. Roongta, chairman of state-run SAIL, said on the sidelines of an industry conference.

Tata Steel, which controls European steel maker Corus, will produce more steel in India in the current quarter than in the previous quarter to meet higher demand, said J.J. Irani, a director at the private steel producer.

Tata Steel produced 1.23 million metric tons of steel in India in the third quarter, almost 1% down on year. Sales declined 14% to 1.07 million tons.

Higher borrowing costs and fears of job losses in a slowing economy have hit the sales of cars and apartments in India, Asia’s third-biggest economy. This has affected steel offtake by the automotive, real estate and infrastructure sectors, leading to lower prices and higher inventory with steel producers. The global economic slowdown has also affected exports.

“We are seeing good demand from construction and auto and in semi-rural areas,” Mr. Roongta said. “Next (financial) year, we think demand in India (for steel) will grow compared to a contraction globally.”

He added steel prices were currently “stable” in India, “lower than international prices.”

Mr. Irani said the economic scenario for steel “is much better than it was three months ago.”

Source: Dow Jones Newswires

India seeks sops for steel industry

New Delhi: India is likely to ask China to remove export duty on metcoke when the top brass of the commerce and industry ministry meet their Chinese counterparts here tomorrow. This would provide the much-needed respite to the domestic steel industry which is battling spiraling input costs and rising inventories.

“The Indian side is expected to raise the issue of either doing away with export duty or at east lowering it substantially to enable domestic steel utilities procure it at affordable rates from China,” official sources said. Commerce secretary G K Pillai along with ministry officials will interact with the Chinese delegtation led by vice-commerce minister Zhong Shan.

India has already lodged a protest with China saying that its traders selling coke to India are still required to furnish a letter of authority from one of the seven Chinese companies. “The Indian industry feels that this practice has been applied only in respect of Indian coke importers and not for importers from any other country. This increases transaction cost on top of the already high international prices of metcoke. We shall be grateful if the Chinese Government considers lifting the canalisation practice being followed,” commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath had pointed out in an earlier letter to his Chinese counterpart Chen Deming. Beijing had sought to allay apprehensions arguing that it has neither canalised sale of coke to India nor reduced coke export quota and instead permitting 39 more enterprises to export the mineral.

Source: Express news service

JSW Steel Eyes Rural Market; To Open 600 Retail Outlets By Next Two Years

JSW Steel Ltd has decided to strengthen its focus on rural market.

To get deeper into the rural market, Mr. Sajjan Jindal, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of JSW Steels, said that the company, which has already opened 60 retail outlets through franchisee route, is planning to take it upto 600 outlets allover India by the next two years.

While talking to media persons at a seminar organized by NMDC in Hyderabad on Monday, Mr. Sajjan said that the company’s overall exports figure accounted for 40% of its production.

UPDATE 1-Tata Steel’s India sales jump 47 pct y/y in Feb

MUMBAI, March 6 (Reuters) – Tata Steel Ltd (TISC.BO), the world’s sixth-largest steel maker, on Friday reported steel sales of 584,000 tonnes in February from its Indian operations, up 47 percent from a year earlier.

The Indian operations account for about a quarter of the group’s total global capacity of 30 M tonnes.

The monthly numbers were boosted by a 65 percent jump in sales of long products and 37 percent rise in sales of flat products, the company said in a statement. (Reporting by Prashant Mehra; Editing by John Mair)


Steel declines as too much output threatens prices

Analyst: Steel companies’ shares fall as producers overreact to brief spike in Chinese demand

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of ArcelorMittal and other steel makers fell hard Monday after an analyst warned that prices are falling and inventories are building.

UBS analyst Andrew Snowdowne downgraded shares of Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel maker, to “Neutral” from “Buy” because of what he described as an overreaction by global steel suppliers to what may be a temporary pickup in Chinese demand.

Following Chinese government stimulus initiatives, prices rose in December 2008. That, in turn, sparked a jump in global steel production. However, in recent weeks, Chinese steel demand has retreated, decreasing prices and increasing inventories.

“The problem seems to be that supply has come back on too fast, with Chinese crude steel production for January reported up 9.9 percent month-over-month to 41.5 million metric tons,” Snowdowne wrote in a client note.

“After several months of substantial price drops and production cuts as end users destocked, mills reacted to rising prices as a chance to recoup losses and regain lost market share.”

He also warned that without an increase in end-user purchasing, prices will fall and traders will refuse to take stock from the mills.

In afternoon trading, ArcelorMittal shares fell $3.09, or 13.8 percent, to $19.33. United States Steel Corp. declined $3.11, or 12.5 percent, to $21.69, while AK Steel Holding Corp. lost 86 cents, or 12.5 percent, to $6.04.