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Steel Output Rising, but Slowly in US

April 25, 2021
Worldwide production increased 15.2% year-over-year in March and is 10.0% higher year-to-date, but the domestic industry’s output is up just 1.0% year-over-year -- and is down -6.3% through Q1 2021.

Global steel production rose to 169.2 million metric tons in March 2021, up 12.6% from February according to data released by the World Steel Assn., which compiles statistics on raw steel production in 64 countries, representing about 98% of the world’s output.

The March result represents a 15.2% rise over the tonnage for March 2020, and it brings the year-to-date total tonnage to 486.9 million metric tons – a 10.0% rise over the January-March 2020 total.

The report World Steel covers "raw” carbon steel, the product of basic-oxygen or electric arc furnaces and cast into semi-finished forms like billets for bar and rod products; slabs for flat products; or blooms, for beam and pipe products. Specialty and stainless steel are accounted separately.

Steel production worldwide is dominated by the Chinese industry, which produces well over half of all the raw steel in any given month. For March, China’s steelmakers produced 94.0 million metric tons, +19.1% more than their comparable total for March 2020.

Through the first quarter of 2021, Chinese raw-steel output totaled 271 million metric tons, or 15.6% more than last year’s January-March total.

The U.S. steel industry produced 7.1 million metric tons (7.8 million short tons) during March, just +1.0% more than the March 2020 total. For the January-March 2021 period, U.S. producers’ output was 20.4 million metric tons (22.5 million short tons), a drop of -6.3% from last year’s three-month total.

World Steel also reported that raw-steel output in North America during Q1 2021 fell to 28.1 million metric tons (30.97 million short tons), down -5.2% compared to the first quarter of 2020.

In addition to the monthly summaries of raw-steel production, the World Steel Assn. issues semi-annual steel-demand forecasts. Earlier this month, World Steel predicted that global steel demand will rise 5.8% this year to 1.87 billion metric tons, then a further 2.7% to 1.92 billion metric tons in 2022. Demand from automotive and construction sectors offer the best prospects for growth, it said.