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Hot steel long products on a walking cooling bed.

Steel Tonnage Up Again, But Still Lagging

June 26, 2022
Steelmakers’ production totals rose for the third straight month, with steady gains in most of the largest producer nations – though the year-to-date totals remain well behind the 2021 rates.

Global raw-steel output rose 3.9% from April to May, increasing for the third straight month to 169.5 million metric tons on the strength of notable month-to-month gains in China and most of the other large steelmaking nations. Production continues to lag the 2021 pace however, with worldwide tonnage down -3.5% from May 2021 and the year-to-date output down -6.3% from the January-May 2021 total.

Production data for 64 countries  is supplied by the World Steel Assn., which tracks raw-steel output for 64 countries representing about 98% of global steel production. The data covers carbon steel produced in 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 volumes are accounted separately.

The year-to-date decline in output is notable because it contrasts with an April World Steel Assn. Short-Range Outlook report for global steel consumption. It predicted 2022 would remain fairly steady with 2021, calling for a year-over-year rise of just +0.4%, and citing especially the drop in Chinese production due to government restrictions on real-estate and construction growth. Rising worldwide inflation and the instability surrounding the Russia-Ukraine war are other growth-limiting factors in that report.

In China, May raw steel production was up 3.9% from April, totaling 96.6 million metric tons for the month, thought that figure is -3.5% less than last May. For the current year-to-date (January-May), Chinese steelmakers have produced 435.0 million metric tons, or -8.7% less than last year’s five-month total.

Steelmakers in India produced 10.6 million metric tons of raw steel during May,

India produced 10.6 million metric tons, up 4.7% over the April figure and 17.3% higher than the May 2021 total. The January-May 2022 output by Indian steelmakers stands ate 53.2 million metric tons, 6.5% higher than the comparable figure for 2021.

Japan is the third-largest steelmaking nation, and May raw-steel tonnage there rose 7.4% from April, but it is still -4.2% lower than the May 2021 total. The YTD output is 38.5 million metric tons, which is -3.5% lower than last year’s January-May total.

The United States steel industry produced 7.2 million metric tons (7.94 million short tons) during May, 4.2% more than during April but -1.6% less than last May’s tonnage. The January-May output total for U.S. steelmakers is 34.3 million metric tons (37.8 million short tons), a decrease of -2.6% compared to last year’s five-month result.

The Russian steel industry is estimated to have produced 6.4 million metric tons during May, unchanged from the total reported for April, and -1.4% less than the May 2021 output. For the current year-to-date, Russia’s steelmakers have produced 31.0 million metric tons, a -2.3% decrease over the same period of 2021.

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