Laurentiu Iordache | Dreamstime
Hot steel slabs on continuous caster runout.

Global Steel Output Slide Continues

Oct. 2, 2023
The eight-month year-to-date output is 1.26 billion metric tons, roughly even with 2022, but the current result is the third consecutive monthly decrease in tonnage, amid weak demand and unstable pricing.

Steel production fell by almost -4.0% worldwide from July to August, totaling 152.6 million metric tons across the 63 countries covered by the World Steel Assn.’s monthly summary. Although an output decrease is typical for August, the current result is 2.2% higher than the August 2022 total. Even so, it represents the third consecutive month-over-month decline and a steady decrease in monthly output through Q2 and Q3 of this year, amid weak demand from manufacturing and construction sectors and steel producers fighting to establish price stability.

Through eight months of output for 2023, global steel production totals 1.26 billion metric tons, virtually even (+0.2%) with the January-August 2022 figure. The current rate of production is trailing the pace forecast for 2023 demand in World Steel’s April mid-range outlook: It projected 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. Instead, falling industrial demand and weak construction activity, and the expectation of economic recession, appear to be directing steelmakers production plans.

The August decline is noteworthy in the Chinese market – which is responsible for about 57% of global steel output, YTD. The August total of 86.4 million metric tons represents a -5.1% drop from the July result. It is still 3.2% higher than last August’s total, and brings the YTD result to 712.9 million metric tons, a 2.6% increase.

Indian steelmakers have countered the global trend throughout the past year, and in August their total raw steel output rose 3.4% from July to 11.9 million metric tons. That figure is 17.4% higher than the August 2022 total, and India has now produced 92.2 million metric tons for 2023, 10.5% more than during the first eight months of 2022.

In Japan, August steel production fell -4.2% from July to 7.1 million metric tons, which is -2.9% lower than the comparable figure for August 2022. For January-August 2023, the Japanese industry has produced 58.4 million metric tons of raw steel, or -3.8% less than during the same period last year.

U.S. raw steel production inched upward (+1.4%) from July to August, totaling 7.1 million metric tons (7.8 million short tons). That result is also nearly even (+1.1%) with the August 2022 total, and it brings the eight-month total to 53.8 million metric tons (59.3 million short tons) – a drop of -1.9% versus January-August 2022.

World Steel’s 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.)

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