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North American steel demand to rise by 1.1 percent this year

File of one of the blast furnace buildings at ArcelorMittal in Burns Harbor. Steel demand is expected to grow by 1.1% in North America this year.

North American steel demand is projected to grow by 1.1% to 144.5 million tons this year, and by another 0.8 percent to 145.6 million tons in 2020.

The World Steel Association forecasts in its newly released April 2019 Short Range Outlook that global steel demand will grow by 1.3% to 1,735 billion tons in 2019 and by 1.0% to reach 1,752 billion tons in 2020.

“In 2019 and 2020, global steel demand is expected to continue to grow, but growth rates will moderate in tandem with a slowing global economy," World Steel Association Economics Committee Chairman Al Remeithi said. "Uncertainty over the trade environment and volatility in the financial markets have not yet subsided and could pose downside risks to this forecast.”

Steel demand worldwide grew by 2.1% last year. Growth is still expected but is predicted to slow because of a slowing global economy, a weaker trade environment, and a deceleration of demand in China. China is the world's larger producer of steel but its industry has benefited from government stimuli over the past few years and a minor contraction is expected by 2020.

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Demand also is expected to slow in the United States in coming years.

"In 2017-18, steel demand in the US benefitted from the strong growth of the economy driven by government-led fiscal stimulus, leading to high confidence and a robust job market," the Brussels-Belgium-based World Trade Association said in a press release. "In 2019, the US growth pattern is expected to slow with the waning effect of fiscal stimulus and a monetary policy normalization. Therefore, both construction and manufacturing growth is expected to moderate. Investment in oil and gas exploration is expected to decelerate as well, while a boost in infrastructure spending is not expected."

Automotive production worldwide, a major end use of steel, is expected to slow to 1 percent this year, according to the World Steel Association. The global machinery sector will continue to decline while construction activities should grow by 35 globally.

Last year, U.S. steel mills made 95.5 million tons of steel last year, the most since 2007, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.