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Uncertainty Flattens Global Steel Output

Aug. 28, 2022
Inflation, war, and regulation have a grip on manufacturing and construction spending worldwide, which has leveled steel production in most of the major producer nations.

Global steel production totaled 149.3 million metric tons during July, fairly even (-0.06%) with the June output but -6.4% less than the total for July 2021, as the world’s steelmakers adjust to decreased industrial and construction demands. Through the first seven months of 2022, global steel production has totaled 1.1 billion metric tons, which is -5.5% less than the January-July 2021 result.

The World Steel Association – which reports raw-steel production totals for 64 countries – earlier this year forecast that global steel consumption would remain about even with 2021 levels, while acknowledging the uncertainty in industrial markets due to inflation, the Russia-Ukraine war, and other factors.

Among the most salient factors for uncertainty in steel output is the effort by Chinese regulators to control excesses in manufacturing and construction activities, pressuring domestic steelmakers to reduce their output.

China, the world’s largest steel-producing nation, produced 81.4 million metric tons during July 2022, -0.11% less than during June and -6.4% than in July 2021. For the current year to-date, Chinese steelmakers have produced 609.3 million metric tons of raw steel, which is -6.5% less than during the comparable period of 2021.

Among all the largest steelmaking nations, the Indian producers continue to be in positive territory. Steelmakers there produced 10.10 million metric tons during July, even (+0.01%) with June and +3.2% over the July 2021 total. Through seven months, the Indian steel industry has produced 73.3 million metric tons of raw steel, which is 8.8% more than last year’s January-July result.

Japanese steelmakers produced 7.30 million metric tons during July, even with June (-0.01%) but -8.5% less than during July 2021. From January through July, Japan’s steel industry has produced 53.3 million metric tons of raw steel – a decrease of -4.3% compared to 2021 totals.

U.S. steelmakers produced 7.0 million metric tons (7.72 million short tons) of raw steel during July, which is slightly over (+0.01%) the June result and -6.4% less than the July 2021 result. The U.S. industry’s YTD total output is 48.0 million metric tons (52.9 million short tons) through July, -2.20% less than 2021’s comparable total.

Russian steelmakers’ estimated July output was 5.5 million metric tons, comparable (+0.09%) to the June estimate but down -13.2% from the July 2021 report. That country’s YTD raw-steel output is now estimated at 41.4 million metric tons, or -13.2% less than the January-July 2021 total.

World Steel’s 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.

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