Domestic steel stocks were roiled today post China’s announcement that might result in winter cuts being less severe compared to CY17 due to: (1) differentiated production curbs to be applied compared to a blanket ban anticipated, and (2) relaxation in emission requirements (same as CY17) and days of severe air pollution revised down (3% in CY18 down from 5% in CY17) compared to estimates.
We believe, this is a knee-jerk reaction as: (a) demand is expected to be better compared to last year as construction activities are unlikely to be curbed in winter months; and (b) high emission plants in North China are still expected to face winter curbs. We will keep a close watch on the details.
However, at this juncture, we see little reason to panic as we see exports from China not rising meaningfully. Maintain ‘Buy’ on Tata Steel (TSL), JSW Steel (JSW) and JSPL. The ministry has formulated a separate policy for the “disordered, undisciplined, polluting” enterprises and the relevant local bodies will submit a list of the same by September end. Disqualified enterprises will face cut-off from industrial water, electricity supply and removal of raw materials, products and production equipment.
Plants under relocation, integration or upgradation list will have to obtain relevant approvals and rectify equipment in accordance with standard of enterprises. Issues may persist in the scrap market as non-compliant scrap processing sites will face some issues. Construction and hydro projects have not been curbed this time and key metrics like land purchased, real estate investment and residential buildings have gained traction over the past few months. Shanghai future rebar prices for January 2019 declined 2% as a knee-jerk reaction to the policy shift towards growth.