David Tadevosian | Dreamstime
Hot steel billets cooling on a runout table.

Weak Demand Drags Global Steel Output

March 25, 2024
Steelmakers in most of the largest producing nations are cutting their output in line with weak demand from industrial and construction consumers.

With Chinese steel output falling almost -7.0% from January, global steel production decreased by -6.0% in February at 148.8 million metric tons across 71 nations. The result is +3.7% higher than the February 2023 total and brings the 2024 year-to-date steel production volume to 306.9 million metric tons, which is +3.0% ahead of the two-month total for last year.

The results are compiled by the World Steel Association, which noted the totals represent 98% of global raw-steel capacity. February results typically lag January totals due to the fewer number of working days, though in the current situation the overall demand for steel is affecting output too.

Among the 10 largest steelmaking nations tallied by World Steel, only no. 8 Germany and no. 9 Iran increased their output from January to February. For most of the largest steelmaking nations, however, the year-to-date results indicate slight progress over 2023.

Steelmakers worldwide continue to face weak demand from their major consumer markets, compelling them to restrain their output levels. Recently, World Steel cited falling demand from industrial and construction markets for only minor growth in steel consumption.

Activity in China, however, typically defines the global picture as producers there regularly melt and cast more than half of the world’s total output. In February, Chinese steelmakers produced an estimated 81.2 million metric tons of raw steel, -6.9% less than during January – though 3.5% more than recorded for February 2023. Through two months of 2024 activity, the Chinese industry’s output totals 168.0 million metric tons of raw steel, or 1.6% more than during January-February 2023.

Indian steelmakers’ 11.8 million metric tons of output during February represented a -5.9% drop in output from January but an 11.4% increase over February 2023. For the January-February period, India has produced 24.5 million metric tons of raw steel, or 10.0% more than last year during the comparable period.

Japanese producers reported 7.0 million tons of raw steel for February, -4.3% below the January total and just 1.1% more than the February 2023 total. The 14.3 million metric tons produced in Japan during January and February are just 0.8% more than the YTD total for 2023.

U.S. steelmakers’ 6.5 million metric tons (  million short tons) of steel produced in February was -4.6% less than their January result, and -1.2% less than their February 2023 result. For the January-February total, the U.S. industry has posted a total of 13.0 million metric tons (  million short tons), or -3.2% less than the two-month total for last year.

The fifth-largest steelmaking nation, Russia, produced 5.7 million metric tons of raw steel last month. That represents a decrease of -8.8% from January and -4.4% from February 2023. The YTD production total for Russia is 11.7 million metric tons, a decrease of -3.2%.

World Steel’s monthly raw-steel production report summarizes output from nations 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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