Results of the March 2019 Sassda Short Track Survey

The Sassda Short Track survey had 88 respondents in March. This survey uses the same questions as those used in the monthly International Stainless Steel Forum’s (ISSF) Short Track Report. However, the ISSF survey is only of stainless steel primary producers and thus the results are not directly comparable but are used to give context.

For Sassda respondents, the results of the first question were:


23% of Sassda respondents had a positive response to the current order situation which is an decrease, when compared to February (33%) and worse than a year ago (36%). The weighted average (2.05) is worse than February and worse than a year ago (2.32).

For ISSF Flat Products, the results were:


For ISSF flat product producers, 76% of respondents had a positive response to their orders levels, which is higher than a year ago (64%). The weighted average is also higher (2.81) compared to February 2018 (2.61).

For ISSF Long Products, the results were:


For ISSF long product producers, 56% of respondents had a positive response to their order levels which is the lower than last month (69%) but worse than a year ago (81%). The weighted average (2.62) is worse than January (2.75) but lower than a year ago (3.12).

For Sassda respondents, the results of the second question were:


20% of Sassda respondents thought the current business situation was positive, which is worse than February (25%) and lower than a year ago (32%). The weighted average has shown an decrease this past month (2.00) compared to last month (2.25) and is worse than March last year which was (2.26).

For ISSF Flat Products, the results were:

The percent of respondents who felt that the current business situation was sufficient or good stood at 57% for February 2018, which is lower than the previous month (43%) and less than a year ago (55%).

For ISSF Long Products, the results were:

February decreased with 38% positive response compared to 44% for the previous month. This was worse than the same month last year (69%). The weighted average of 2.40 was lower than the previous month (2.50) and lower than a year ago (2.88).

For Sassda respondents, the results of the third question were:

24% of respondents thought things would get better which is the same as the previous month (24%). However, 10% thought things would get worse.

The above data can be converted to the Sassda Expectations Index, where the index is calculated as 0.5 x % unchanged + % better. Above 50 would predict expansion in the next three months.


This month has shown a further decrease in expectations ever.

For ISSF Flat products. The results were:


In February 2019 15% of the respondents felt things would get better with (0) % expecting things to get worse. The weighted average (2.75) is also higher than February 2018 (2.44).

For ISSF Long Products, the results were:


6% of ISSF long product respondents felt that business would get better in the next three months, with 0% thinking it would get worse. The weighted average of 2.59 which is lower than last month (2.63) and better than a year ago (2.42).

The comments received from Sassda members were:

  • The economy is going through a technical recession;
  • Quality and good customer service still pay the bills, but it is tuff to create new job opportunities;
  • Stainless steel is doing great;
  • We had an enquiry to passivate about 600 tons of 3CR12 for construction work at Sappi;
  • The importation of finished consumer goods from the far east is damaging the local wholesale and retail markets;
  • We have lost orders in the past due to our competitors having old stock;  We can see the last two months that we have got more orders on the current prices which tells me that our competitors old stock has been replaced;
  • The economy is currently marking time as there is no new business in the pipeline and unemployment on the rise.  Hopefully, things will improve after the coming elections with Government leading the way to improve the current poor economic situation by investing in infrastructure;
  • Judging from the comments emanating from the US we are in for a tougher ride than we thought.  What we need is productivity to make us competitive, not ridiculous demands for more money;
  • Yes please imports, imports, inferior quality on the market, chrome plated, that is pass onto the consumer as 304.

“Following the pedestrian real GDP growth performance of 2018, 2019 is shaping up to be another challenging year for the SA economy. Incoming data for 2019Q1 suggests that a sizeable contraction might be on the cards. Beyond the first quarter, the short run outlook for the domestic economy is further clouded by signs of slowing global growth momentum, low levels of private sector confidence, a subdued domestic demand environment, and constrained fiscal and monetary policy.

On the domestic front, several adverse developments are expected to weigh on real GDP growth over the forecast horizon.  First, renewed concern over electricity supply will likely weigh on real economic activity in 2019Q1 and beyond.

As mentioned before, we do not expect a major improvement in the domestic policy environment post-election, while major economic reforms will likely remain elusive. This suggests that private sector fixed investment growth will remain subdued.  Fiscal risks have also increased, with government facing substantial pressure on both the revenue and expenditure side. This suggests that a credit rating downgrade by Moody’s to sub-investment grade remains a distinct possibility. Consumer spending will remain subdued on the back of weak income growth, although a benign inflation environment should provide some relief.

While weak growth and low inflation might traditionally point to a cut in the policy interest rate, the SARB’s renewed commitment to the midpoint of the target range makes this unlikely. In all, we now expect real GDP growth to average 1% in 2019 and 1.4% in 2020.” (BER 2nd Quarter, 2019)

Thanks and Kind Regards

Lesley Squires
Market Intelligence & Exports
Tel: +27 11 883 0119 | Cell: +27 82 758 8074