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Global Steel Output Decline Apparent in November Totals

Dec. 22, 2014
-4.3% drop in production from previous month confirms recent demand forecast Global capacity off -1.2% Chinese tonnage -6.2% U.S. tonnage -2.5%

Global steel production declined by -4.3% from October to November, matched by declines in output in most of the world’s large steel-producing nations, as well as in global capacity utilization. The Brussels-based World Steel Association reported raw steel tonnage among member countries totaled 130.5 million metric tons for November, down from 134.7 million metric tons produced during October, but up 0.1% from the November 2013 total.

The Association also reported raw-steel capacity utilization during November 2014 was 73.5% of apparent capacity — down 1.2% from October, and also down 2.5% from November 2013.

The World Steel Assn. tracks raw (or crude) steel tonnage and capacity utilization across 65 countries. Raw steel is the product 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.

November’s output resumes the pattern of declining output that has prevailed since March, and show the effects of a trend indicated in the Association’s recent short-term forecast on global steel consumption. In an October release, World Steel forecast its second consecutive short-range outlook for declining rates of increase for global steel consumption, anticipating the current year’s consumption to rise just 2.0% over the 2013 “apparent steel usage”, to 1.56 billion metric tons, and for that to be followed a further 2.0% to 1.59 billion metric tons for 2015.

The current year’s cumulative steel production total (January-November 2014) is 1.497 billion metric tons, which is a 1.8% increase over the eleven-month total for 2013.

Major Producing Nations Scale Back

The declining output in major steel-producing nations is more pronounced than the global picture. In China, by far the world’s leading producer of raw steel, November’s steel output was 63.6 million metric tons, down 6.2% from October. For the current year, Chinese steelmakers have produced 748.7 million metric tons of steel, an increase of 1.9% over the 11-month total for 2013.

Japan’s November output totaled 9.175 million metric tons, down 2.0% from October, and down 1.1% from November 2013. The year-to-date total is 101.67 million metric tons, up 0.4% over last year’s rate.

South Korean steelmakers produced 5.9 million metric tons of raw steel in November, down 3.4% from October but up by 5.5% versus November 2013. The country’s 11-month total is 65.3 million metric tons, up 8.5% over the comparable 2013 result.  

Across the European Union, total steel output for the core 28 countries was 14.26 million metric tons during November, down by 3.2% from October, and down 0.8% from November 2013. The annual total for the region is 156.7 million metric tons, a 2.3% improvement over the comparable result for 2013.

Within the region, the largest steelmaking nation is Germany, where in November the producers’ output was 3.6 million metric tons of raw steel. That represented a 1.6% rise in output over October, a 1.9% decrease versus November 2013, and brings the current annual production total to 39.7 million metric tons, a 1.3% improvement over 2013’s comparable figure.

The second-ranked steelmaking nation in the EU is Italy: there, November output totaled just 1.8 million metric tons, a decrease of 9.6% versus October, and of -13.9% from October 2013. Italy’s year-to-date production has reached 22.25 million metric tons, down slightly (-0.2%) versus the country’s 2013 eleven-month total.

France’s raw steel production was 1.4 million metric tons, falling 6.5% from October, though increasing 5.8% compared to November 2013.

Spain produced 1.2 million metric tons of raw steel in November, a -5.0% decline from October and a -1.9% drop versus November 2013.

Turkey, which the World Steel Assn. counts among the “Other Europe”  regional report, produced 2.8 million metric tons of raw steel in November 2014, up 3.0% from October’s result but down -8.6% versus November 2013.

Also categorized as Other Europe are Russia and Ukraine – two economies beset by regional war through most of 2014. In November 2014, Russia’s steelmakers produced 5.8 million metric tons of raw steel, up 0.6% from October and also up by 5.8% from November 2013. The year-to-date output is 64.8 million metric tons, up 2.8% over 2013’s 11-month result.

Steelmakers in Ukraine produced 1.8 million metric tons of raw steel in November, a -5.6% fall from October’s tonnage, and a decrease of -28.6% compared to November 2013. The Ukraine YTD result through November is 25.3 million metric tons, a decline of -16.1% from the 2013 record.

In the U.S., steelmakers produced 7.2 million metric tons of raw steel in November 2014 — 7.9 million tons — a drop of -2.5% from October’s result, and increase of 1.5% from November 2013’s result. The 11-month total production for 2013 is 80.9 million metric tons, a 1.5% rise over last year’s running total.

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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