Eighteen months of production data show a global steel industry striving to maintain steady output against the challenges of an economy weakened by the worldrsquos debt crises World Steel Assn.

Eighteen months of production data show a global steel industry striving to maintain steady output against the challenges of an economy weakened by the world’s debt crises.

Global Steel Output Up for September, Just Barely

Russian production up 15% for September, 4.3% year-on-year U.S. September output down 3%, up 5.3% year-to-date China increased 0.6% in September, up 2.7% year-to-date E.U. down 3.9% in September, down -4.6% year-to-date

The World Steel Association reported global raw steel production totaled 123,637,000metric tons during September 2012, just slightly above the 123,637,000metric tons produced during September 2011. The Association explained the difference as “no change” versus the year earlier. However, for the year to date, global steel production stands at 1,149,417,000 metric tons, an increase of 0.6% over the 1,142,489,000 metric tons produced from January through September 2011, and 9.8% more than the 1,046,810,000 metric tons produced for January-September 2010.

Most of the regions for which World Steel tracks production report overall decreases in their September production totals, though the former Commonwealth of Independent States has increased its output by 5.7% over September 2011. Within the former C.I.S. — comprised of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan — the increase has been driven by Russia, where September production of 6,234,000 metric tons was up 15.1% over September 2011 (5,416,000 metric tons.) That country has now produced 53,777,000 metric tons this year, 4.3% over 51,538,000 metric tons produced January-September 2011.)

North American production (including Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean) declined 2.5% during September versus September 2011, including a 3.0% decline last month in the U.S., to 7,015,000 from 7,233,000 during September 2011.

The region’s year-to-date total is up 3.9% to 92,792,000 versus 89,277,000 for January-September 2011. U.S. steelmakers have produced 68,154,000 metric tons of steel through the first nine months of this year, an increase of 5.3% over the September 2011 total of 64,726,000 metric tons.

India strong, Taiwan trailing

Asian nations have increased their output just 0.9% during September versus September 2011, though among those nations India’s increase was 5.6%, to 6,155,000 metric tons from 5,829,000 metric tons. South Korea increased 1.8% year-over-year, Taiwan rose 0.7%, and China increased 0.6%. Japan’s September output was down 1.0% versus last September.

For the nine months of 2012, the region has increased output by 1.5%, now totaling 748,560,000 metric tons. India’s year-to-date total is up 3.1%, South Korea’s is up 3.0%, and China’s is up 2.7%. Japan’s annual output is up 0.4% year-to-date, but Taiwan’s production total is down 7.6% year-on-year.

The most notable change in global steel production this year has been the decline of European production, where the E.U. 27 nations had September output that was down 3.9% over last September — 14,105,000 versus 14,672,000 metric tons. Within that total, year-on-year production in France was down 3.0%, in Germany down 2.2%, in Italy down 7.8%, in Spain down 10.6%, and in the U.K. down 1.6%

The year-to-date output from the E.U. is more telling. Nine-month results show raw steel production stands at 129,625,000 metric tons, down -4.6% from 135,927,000 metric tons produced for January-September 2011, but also now 0.3% below the 130,061,000 produced through the first nine months of the recovery year 2010.

Production is up 1.1% in France for the year-to-date, down 4.9% in Germany, down 2.6% in Italy, down 11.8% in Spain, and down 2.0% in the U.K.

The World Steel Assn. noted that September 2012 raw steel capacity utilization ratio for all 62 countries rose to 77.7% from 75.5% in August 2012.  Compared to September 2011, the utilization rate is down 2.5%.

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