World steel output amounted to 1,869.9 Mt in 2019, an increase of 3.4% from the year before, according to new data from the World Steel Association. Regional output declined in all geographical regions except for the Middle East and Asia, according to the WSA data. Asia, as a region, generated 1,341.6 Mt of steel last year or 5.7% more than the year before with China’s output alone hitting 996.3 Mt or 8.3% more than in 2018. Middle East output surged by 19.2% year-on-year to 45.3 Mt. Turkish steel output fell by 9.6% to 33.7 Mt. CIS output fell by a modest 0.5% to 100.4 Mt including 71.6 Mt from Russia (down 0.7%) and 20.8 Mt from Ukraine (down 1.2%). European Union-based steel production declined by 4.9% year-on-year to reach 159.4 Mt. Germany again produced the largest share of EU steel or 39.7 Mt or 6.5% down from 2018. Italy produced 23.2 Mt (-5.2%), France generated 14.5 Mt (-6.1%) while Spain produced 13.6 Mt (-5.2% YoY).
Spot market prices for wheat have eased in recent days after hitting over one-year highs last week on a combination of global supply concerns. March milling wheat contracts began the week down to EUR 195.25/mt on the Euronext commodities exchange in Paris after reaching EUR 199.75/mt at midweek the week before, the highest spot price since February 2018, before facing some reactionary pressure at the EUR 200/mt market later in the week. Chicago futures also made similar gains to similar levels. Russia continues to mull proposals about limiting grain exports while port strikes in France have caused as much as 0.5 Mt in grain to remain in limbo at French terminals. These port stoppages after a stretch of rail strikes prompted grain buyers to consider other European suppliers, but have had the wider effect of limiting overall grain supply onto the global market. Some German traders are already speculating that German-origin wheat may suddenly become more attractive on the EU market if the strikes continue.
European urea prices have come under moderate pressure in recent days with spot prices for Black Sea and Baltic Sea-origin prilled bulk urea reduced by about US$ 1-3/mt week-on-week to US$ 212/mt FOB and US$ 214/mt FOB, respectively. CFR prices have declined by about US$ 2/mt on the week for Mediterranean (duty paid) spot prilled bulk urea to the range of US$ 238-248/mt CFR. Granular bulk urea prices origin North Africa have declined by US$ 4/mt over the past week to hit US$ 245/mt FOB (maximum) while Black Sea spot prices dropped by US$ 3/mt week-on-week to US$ 220/mt FOB.
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