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Freedonia Projects Slight Increase in U.S. Demand for Refractories (posted 2/29/08)

February 29, 2008
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According to a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., U.S. demand for refractory products is forecast to advance 1.8% per year to $2.5 billion in 2011.

According to “Refractories,” a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., U.S. demand for refractory products is forecast to advance 1.8% per year to $2.5 billion in 2011, accelerating from the 2001-2006 period. Gains will be driven by strong growth in the production of nonmetallic mineral products, particularly cement, as nonresidential and nonbuilding construction expenditures are expected to accelerate.

Growth will also be supported by the increasing use of better-performing, more expensive refractories that will bolster demand in value terms. Advances will be somewhat restrained by slowing steel production growth and a weak outlook for fabricated metals. Shipments of refractories are projected to rise 1.3% per year, a slower pace than demand, and the U.S. is expected to slip into a trade deficit in refractory products by 2011.

Among refractory forms, demand for bricks and shapes is expected to advance more rapidly than for monolithics, as preformed shapes continue to be increasingly utilized due to the performance advantages they offer. However, demand for monolithic bonding and other mortars is projected to grow at an above-average pace, as the use of these products provides an economic advantage by extending the time span between brick relinings. Clay refractories are expected to outperform nonclay refractories through 2011, benefiting from the increasing use of higher-value materials, such as high-alumina, due to their superior performance attributes.

Refractory demand from nonmanufacturing industries will grow at the fastest pace through 2011, supported by the increased use of stone ovens in restaurants, as well as the growing popularity of outdoor fireplaces. The largest dollar gains are expected in the nonmetallic mineral products market, which will increase more in value terms than the considerably larger metal products market, despite its smaller size. Gains in this market will be spurred by strong growth in the production of ceramics, cement and other mineral products, fueling demand for associated refractories.

“Refractories” (published 02/2008, $4600) is available from The Freedonia Group, Inc., www.freedoniagroup.com.

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