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Global Steel Output is Flat, and Falling

Sept. 27, 2022
The year-to-date tonnage has slipped below the 2021 pace, apparently due to weak industrial demand in nearly every steelmaking region and major producing country, as well as complicating factors such as unreliable supply chains and the war in Europe.

Global steel output inched upward from July to August, totaling 150.6 million metric tons in the latest report by the World Steel Assn. That total is essentially even with the July result (+0.01%) but is down -3.0% versus the August 2021 total. Through eight months of activity, with 1.25 billion metric tons produced, global steel output for 2022 is down -5.0% year-over-year compared to 2021.

In nearly every steelmaking region and major producing country detailed by World Steel, tons of steel output leveled off during the third quarter of 2022, apparently adapting to reduced demand amid slower industrial activity, rising energy costs, and complicating factors such as unreliable supply chains and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 2022 output trend runs counter to the mid-range forecast issued by World Steel during Q2, which called for global steel consumption to be even with 2021 results, even accounting for weaker steel demand. 

The World Steel Association – which reports raw-steel production for 64 countries – earlier this year forecast that global steel consumption would remain about even with 2021 levels, even while acknowledging various sources of global economic uncertainty.

Chinese steel output totaled 83.9 million metric tons during August, improving slightly (+0.03%) over July and over August 2021 (+0.05%), but in 2022 that industry is the object of central planning efforts to minimize steel production as a measure to contain excess manufacturing output and to minimize real-estate inflation. Through eight months of activity, Chinese steelmakers have produced 693.2 million metric tons of raw steel – which is -5.7% less than the January-August 2021 total.

Though significantly smaller, the Indian steel industry has shown steady growth during 2022 – with 10.2 million tons of output during August. That total is even (+0.01%) with July’s result and +1.20% higher than the August 2021 result, and it brings India’s YTD output to 83.5 million metric tons, +7.1% higher than the comparable figure for 2021.

Japanese steelmakers produced 7.3 million metric tons of raw steel during August, the same total as in July, but that results in a -7.40% drop from the August 2021 tonnage, and it brings the year-to-date total to 60.7 million metric tons – a -5.20% drop from last year’s eight-month total.

The U.S. steel industry is the world’s fourth largest by output, and it produced 7.0 million metric tons (7.7 million short tons) during August, the same as in July, but -7.10% less than during August 2021. U.S. steelmakers have produced 54.9 million metric tons (60.5 million short tons) through eight months of 2022 – which is -3.70% less than last year’s January-August total.

World Steel’s monthly summaries track carbon steel output from 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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