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Global Steel Output Remains Flat

July 30, 2023
At midyear, total tonnage of 159 million metric tons shows an industry carefully avoiding overproduction and held in check by weak demand and fears of recession.

Global steel production fell slightly from May to June, down -1.8% for the month to 158.8 million metric tons worldwide, though the result effectively shows no year-over-year change (-0.1%) from the June 2022 tonnage. Through six months of production, the world’s 2023 total for raw-steel output is 943.8 million metric tons, down -1.1% from the January-June 2022 result.

The production data is supplied by the World Steel Assn. Its monthly report summarizes the production results for 63 countries, representing 97.0% of global steel capacity. The report 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 not included.)

The current rate of production is trailing the pace forecast for 2023 demand in World Steel’s recent outlook report: It projects 2023 steel demand rising 2.3% to 1.82 billion metric tons, and then improving further by 1.7% to 1.85 billion metric tons for 2024. In line with that forecast, falling industrial demand and weak construction activity, and the expectation of economic recession, appear to be limiting steelmakers expansion efforts.

The apparent consistency with 2022 results is remarkable because the scale of the Chinese steel industry – more than 65% of the YTD global output – makes its results indicative of the global result. In June, Chinese producers increased their monthly result by one million metric tons (up 1.1% from May) to 91.1 million metric tons. That figure is virtually even with June 2022 (+0.4%), and brings China’s YTD total to 535.6 million metric tons, up 1.3% from 2022.

The Indian industry, the second largest by volume, produced 11.2 million metric tons in June, unchanged from May but 12.9% more than in June 2022. The YTD output is 67.9 million metric tons, or 7.4% more than during the first six months of last year.

Japanese steelmakers produced 7.3 million metric tons during June, -4.1% less than in May and -1.7% less than in June 2022. Japan’s producers have cut their year-to-date output by -4.7% from last year to 43.8 million metric tons.

The U.S. industry produced 6.8 million metric tons (7.49 million short tons) during June, -1.5% than during Many and roughly even (+0.5%) with the June 2022 total. For the January-June period, the domestic industry’s output is 39.9 million metric tons (43.98 million short tons), a decrease of -2.9% from the comparable 2022 period.

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