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Hot steel billets, cooling on a walking-bed runout table after continuous casting.

Global Steel Output Flattens, Again

Oct. 30, 2022
Chinese steel tonnage rose slightly, but production totals in the U.S. and other developed markets continue to fall amid the weakening industrial and construction demand.

Global raw-steel production rose to 151.7 million metric tons in September, an increase of less than 1.0% from August, but a positive sign insomuch as the new total is 3.7% higher than the September 2021 result.  Steel output has been lagging expectations for much of the current year, first due to the steady decrease in Chinese production that began in mid-2021, and more recently due to falling volumes in Japan, the U.S., and other developed nations.

Recently the World Steel Assn. reduced its outlook for 2022 steel consumption to 1.8 billion metric tons, citing the impact of inflation, the tightening money supply, supply shortages, war, and other factors pressuring the world economy, plus few prospects for recovery.

With the September totals, year-to-date global steel production stands at 1.4 billion metric tons, a -4.3% decline from the January-September 2021 production total.

All the figures are provided by World Steel, which tracks raw-steel production totals from 64 countries. The monthly report is comprised of 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.

Because China regularly produces half or more of the world’s total raw-steel output, steel output there has an outsized influence of the global trend. Chinese output began to fall in the summer of 2021 – based mainly on government restrictions meant to contain real-estate and construction market over-expansion – though the September total may indicate that steelmaking there has found some stability.

Chinese steelmakers produced 86.95 million metric tons during September 2022, 3.6% more than in August and 17.6% more than in September 2021. Even so, through nine months of activity the Chinese industry has produced 780.8 million metric tons of raw steel, -3.4% less than during the comparable period of 2021.

The Indian steel industry produced 9.9 million metric tons, down -3.0% from the August result and 1.8% ahead of last September’s tonnage. For the year-to-date, India’s steel output is 93.3 million metric tons, 6.4% higher than the nine-month total for 2021.

Japan, the third-ranking steelmaking nation, produced 7.1 million metric tons during September, down -2.8% from August and -12.3% versus September 2021. Through the first nine months of this year, Japanese producers’ output stands at 67.8 million metric tons, a -6.0% decrease from last year.

U.S. steelmakers produced 6.6 million metric tons (7.3 million short tons) for September, -6.1% less than in August and -7.5% less than in September 2021. For the current year-to-date, the domestic industry has produced 61.5 million metric tons (67.8 million short tons) of raw steel, or -4.3% less than during the same period of 2021.

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