David Tadevosian | Dreamstime
Steel billets at torch cutting.

Third Straight Decline in Global Steel Output

Dec. 26, 2022
Weak demand continues to shape the results for steelmakers worldwide, and especially in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, with inflation and rising interest rates affecting industrial and construction activity.

Global raw-steel production decreased in November for the third consecutive month, down nearly -5.9% from October to 139.1 million metric tons for the 64 countries reporting to the World Steel Assn. The top nine steelmaking nations reported lower tonnage than for October, though the U.S. and European producers are notably trailing their year-over-year results for November. Through 11 months of production for 2022, total global output of raw steel stands at 1,691.40 for the January-November period, which is -3.7% lower than the comparable figure for January-November 2021.

The YTD total is outpaces World Steel’s recent short-term outlook for steel demand, published in October, which forecast a 2022 reduction of -2.3% from 202 – down to 1.796 billion metric tons.

The decrease in global steel demand, according to World Steel, is the result of multiple factors reducing industrial and construction activities worldwide, including inflation, a tightening money supply, supply shortages, war, and various other factors. Steelmakers in most regions of the world have been adjusting output levels since 2021, in order to adapt to the worsening conditions.

Two exceptions to the trend are China and India, the two largest steelmaking nations: China’s steel output appears to have leveled off, after pronounced output cuts during 2021; and India’s steel output has been remarkably steady during the past two years.

The monthly report by World Steel tracks the total 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 for separately.

China’s steelmakers cut their monthly output by -7.1% from October to November, producing 74.5 million metric tons, though that figure is 7.3% higher than the November 2021 tonnage. Through 11 months of activity for 2022, the Chinese industry has produced 935.1 million metric tons of raw steel – which is a -1.4% drop from last year’s 11-month total.

The Indian steel industry produced 10.4 million metric tons during November, -1.0% from October. The new figure is 5.7% higher than the November 2021 result, and brings India’s year-to-date output to 114.2 million metric tons, 6.0% above the January-October 2021 total.

The world’s third largest steelmaking nation, produced 7.2 million metric tons during November, down -1.4% from the October figure and -10.7% from the November 2021 result. Through 11 months of activity, Japanese steelmakers have produced 82.3 million metric tons, or -6.9% less than the total for the comparable period of 2021.

U.S. steel producers’ output fell -4.7% from October to 6.4 million metric tons (7.05 million short tons) in November, and that represents a -10.7% decrease from their November 2021 result. For the year-to-date, U.S. steelmakers have produced 74.4 million metric tons (82.01 million short tons) – a total that is -5.5% less than last January-November’s tonnage.

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