Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 04/15/2014 -- We maintain a modest outlook on the US metals sector throughout 2018. Our forecast for an improving US macroeconomic outlook underpins our view that metal production and consumption should see growth, though long-term declines in metal intensity lead us to believe any growth will be minimal. In the short term, we expect that refiners and metal producers will continue bringing production back online as the country's economic outlook improves, particularly in the construction, oil & gas, and automotive sectors. However, production and consumption will probably remain below pre-crisis levels for some time.
We forecast average yearly real GDP growth of 2.5% from 2014 to 2018, underpinning our view that the metal sector will see slow but steady growth over the period. Gains non-residential construction, automotive production, and oil and gas investment, should lead to steady, albeit low, demand growth for refined metal products. However, elevated inventories, weak foreign demand, and increased competition from cheap imports will cap production increases.
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The US metals sector does rely somewhat on imports of some mineral inputs such as bauxite and tin. We forecast little change in the nature of US metals trade, but recognise that sharp changes to metals prices could affect this dynamic. We expect that the bulk of metals sector production will be supplied by domestic mineral resources to support US industries rather than for export abroad. We also note that domestic US companies will dominate production of their respective metals, although laws on foreign ownership of US based companies enables some foreign companies to operate as well, with various foreign steel firms maintaining US operations.
Industry Demand To Support Sector
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