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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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