In the Metal Engineering Division, business in the first six months of the current business year was marked by a favorable level of demand, albeit the individual business fields of this highly diversified division reported quite different trends. In addition to the market trends, the second quarter was impacted by a major blast furnace repair part at the Donawitz location, which was completed on schedule.
The first half of the business year saw very satisfactory demand from the railway infrastructure sector, whereby the decline in rail and turnout investments in Europe was compensated by increased project activity in the emerging economies. The Rail Technology segment profited from the continuing strong demand for special rails, while the market for standard rails remained under a great deal of pressure.
The Turnout Technology business segment experienced brisk demand from mine operators in Brazil, South Africa, and Australia. In North America, the market trend also continued to be quite satisfactory, and in China, after a long phase of reduced investment activity, construction in the railway infrastructure segment picked up slightly. Construction of new turnout plants in Turkey (commissioning is currently underway) and Saudi Arabia (construction ongoing) is on schedule.
The trend in the Seamless Tube business segment continued to be marked by strong momentum in oil and gas exploration activity worldwide during the first half of the current business year as well. Even if activities in the second quarter of 2012/13 most recently slowed somewhat due to the low price of gas in North America, overall, the level of incoming orders continues to be very satisfactory. Since the spring of 2012, the trend in the Wire business segment has been somewhat more moderate than in the previous quarters. Particularly in the second quarter of 2012/13, demand dropped off not only for seasonal reasons, but also due to the downturn in the automobile industry. In the Welding Consumables segment, the trend was regionally differentiated. While demand in the growth regions of China and India tended to be subdued, primarily due to a lack of ongoing power plant projects, the market trend in Europe and North and South America was quite satisfactory.