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The November indices for flat products are up on our predictions - mainly as a result of currency exchange rate tendencies. Due to the above, we have uprated our forecasts for uncoated strip mill products. The plate segment remains firm in most countries and our estimates for next year have been upgraded to reflect the weakness of the US dollar. We still expect a quite firm first quarter for pricing for strip products but a slow deterioration from Spring 2005 onwards. Plate figures should stay solid for longer. Any decrease is likely to commence in the second quarter negotiations.

Prices for coated products took off faster than we anticipated in Japan. This, combined with a higher exchange rate, has pushed up the indices above our expectations in November. These higher figures are likely to be maintained well into the New Year. Price slippage is still predicted late in the first quarter, 2005.

Currency exchange rate movements pushed up our November indices for long products despite little movement in values in national currencies. We maintain our forecast for a price drift for most products in the coming months as construction activity slows in most parts of the region. However, our figures have been adjusted in an upward direction as a result of the currency factors.

Our forecast indices are based on a constant US dollar exchange rate into the future. However, a recent decline in the US dollar value against most major currencies has translated into increased figures in all our Carbon Steel Price Forecasts for November - to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon region. This is expected to also impact on the December values.

Source: MEPS - STEEL PRICES ON-LINE (regional steel price tables & forecasts)