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Barometer says outlook is fine for steel

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Official government statistics on construction workloads have been less than encouraging recently, but industry reports contradict this and suggest that demand remains firm. The uncertainty driven by the pending EC referendum is apparently giving some investors pause for thought, but the industry’s own observations suggest that there is no real sign that the recent strong demand for buildings in the key markets served by constructional steelwork is slackening off to any significant extent.

The most recent London Cranes Survey from Deloitte – covering a sector where steel dominates the multi storey market – gives solid grounds for optimism, showing that 51 schemes have got under way since the last survey a year ago, the highest number of starts since the survey started 20 years ago. The total volume of office space under construction was up 28% over six months, the highest level since 2008.

The survey is highly regarded in the property industry as a barometer of developer’s sentiment and future office supply. Despite uncertainties generated by the EC referendum their outlook remains highly positive. Other reports suggest that the development market in the regions is also strong and the boom in internet shopping is leading to strong demand for that staple of the steel construction sector, the logistics centre, or large shed.

Within this steady construction outlook, steel’s place within it looks secure thanks to the updated construction cost update from Gardiner & Theobald that can be found on The cost models used in this series of studies are regularly updated, using the most up to date available data; for this study that was prices in the first quarter (Q1) of 2016.

The study confirms that steel remains the most competitive framing option. There have been recent price rises in steel which are unlikely to affect the relative competitive strength of steel solutions as rebar used in concrete alternatives has also risen in price.–

UK steel supply for the constructional steelwork sector remains assured following the conclusion of the sale of Tata’s Long Products Europe business to Greybull Capital.  The Long Products Europe business, which supplies the structural steelwork market, includes the Scunthorpe steelworks and two mills in Teesside, plus distribution facilities. The new business will trade under the name of British Steel.

Nick Barrett

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