World’s Steel Production Declines for Second Month

Aug. 24, 2014
Solid results in U.S. drive July’s strongest regional results China slowly expanding Asia paces world totals EU in July decline
Raw steel output across 65 nations appeared even, though the rate of expansion declined in Asia and the European Union, and increased markedly in North America, particularly for U.S. steelmakers.

Total raw steel output dropped less than 1% worldwide during July, though the year-to-year comparison was slightly to the positive. And, while the July total — 136.8 million metric tons, down 0.64% from June, up 1.7% from July 2013 — represents the second consecutive monthly decline, the world’s year-to-date raw steel output is up 2.4% over the January-July 2013 results.

The Brussels-based World Steel Assn. issues the monthly report on raw (or crude) steel production in its 65 member countries. Raw steel is the basic output of electric arc furnaces and basic oxygen furnaces, prior to metallurgical refining and casting into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. World Steel’s results include data for carbon and carbon alloy steel output. Stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.

The slowing rate of output for July was evident also in the global capacity utilization rate of 75.4%, down 2.9% from June and also down 1.2% from July 2013.

In China, which typically produces close to half of all the world’s raw steel, the July output was down 1.4% from June, but up 1.5% versus the July 2013 total. Through the first seven moths of this year, China’s raw steel output is 2.4% higher than during the comparable period of 2013.

Across Asia, the region that includes three of the ten largest steel-producing nations, July production declined 0.65% from June, but remains in line with the worldwide year/year and year-to-date results.

In Japan, monthly production is up 2.0% from June to July, even with July 2013, and up 0.8% for the year-to-date.

In South Korea, monthly production fell 2.5% from June, but the current result is 6.2% higher than July 2013, and 8.7% higher than the January-July 2013 period.

The European Union’s regional steel industry has largely recovered from its 2012 recession depths, but the July raw steel totals declined 6.3% from June, and declined 2.0% from July 2013. For the first seven months of 2014, the region has improved its raw steel output by 3.0% over the comparable period of 2013.

Germany, the largest steel-producing nation in the region, produced 3.1% less steel in July than in June, but 1.6% more than in July 2013. The year-to-date results show Germany’s steelmakers have increased their tonnage by 3.9%.

In Italy, the second-largest producer nation in the EU, July output fell 3.9% from June, and declined 3.6% from July 2013. The seven-month total is 2.1% higher than the tonnage for the same period of 2013.

In Eastern Europe, raw steel output in Russia increased 5.4% from June to July, and 8.1% over July 2013. Russia’s year-to-date steel output is 2.7% higher than it was at the same point of 2012.

Ukrainian steelmakers produced 9.0% more raw steel in July than in June, but their totals are 11.7% less than during July 2013. For the first seven months of this year, Ukraine steel production is 7.7% off the 2013 pace.

North American steelmakers enjoyed strong results during July, producing 3.6% more than during June and 2.0% more than during July 2013. The region — which, for World Steel reporting purposes, covers Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Trinidad, as well as the United States — now has produced 2.1% more during the first seven months of 2014 than it did during January-July 2013.

In the U.S., July production totaled 7.6 million metric tons (8.4 million tons), or 5.3% more than June, and 2.3% more than during July 2013. For the year-to-date, the U.S. steel industry’s output is 1.3% more than during the same seven-month period of 2013.

The South American region increased raw steel production by 6.2% from June to July, and 1.1% from July 2013. However, the year-to-date results are down 1.3% over January-July 2013.

Brazil, the dominant producer in the region, increased its monthly output of raw steel by 9.0% in July, though that was just 0.5% more than in July 2013. For the first seven months of 2014, the Brazilian raw steel tonnage is down 1.1% versus the January-July 2013 results.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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