The wait goes on for a restocking rebound, with customers maintaining a “wait and see” approach. However, sentiment appears to have reached a floor, and apparent demand will rebound once real consumption does, given the low inventory environment, especially in Europe, says ArcelorMittal.

In early February, the firm said there were signs of apparent demand improvement as the destocking phase reached maturity (see Kallanish passim).

Although destocking has ended, the steelmaking group admits overall economic sentiment has remained subdued since then. It has nevertheless maintained its global excluding China apparent steel demand growth forecast for 2024 at 3-4%, with US growth seen at 1.5-3.5%, Europe at 2-4%, Brazil at 0.5-2.5% and India at 6.5-8.5%.

ArcelorMittal’s consolidated crude steel production fell 1% on-year in the first quarter to 14.4 million tonnes, while steel shipments dropped 7% to 13.5mt. Sales fell 12% to $16.28 billion, with net profit down 14% to $938 million and Ebitda down 9% to $1.96 billion.

Compared to the fourth quarter of 2023, however, revenue grew 12%, reflecting 4.8% higher steel selling prices and 1.4% higher shipments.

From "unsustainably low" levels in Q4 2023, European steel spreads have somewhat normalised; US prices have been volatile – reflecting low inventory – but are showing signs of stabilisation recently, ArcelorMittal notes. China’s domestic margins remain unsustainably low – excess production is leading to high, and rising, steel exports, which remain an unfair challenge to the global steel industry, it adds.

The firm’s planned ramp-up at its Sestao works, along with the new electric arc furnace at Gijon which, will break ground imminently, will play important roles in ArcelorMittal remaining a leading low-emission steel supplier, says chief executive Aditya Mittal.