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Worldwide Steel Tonnage Fell Again in September

Oct. 20, 2015
Fourth straight month of declining output as demand wanes in major markets Capacity utilization, -4.0% Y/Y Chinese steel output -3.0% YTD U.S. steel output -8.6% YTD
The steadily declining steel output matches the World Steel Association’s recent short-term outlook for steel demand, anticipating a 1.7% fall for 2015 and a modest rebound of 0.7% in 2016.

Global raw steel production fell 1% to 130.9 million metric tons during September, down from 132.3 million metric tons during August. It was the fourth consecutive month of declining steel tonnage, according to the World Steel Association, which reports production and capacity utilization for its 66 member nations on a monthly basis. 

The new total also indicates a 3.7% year-on-year decrease from the September 2014 total, and it brings the nine-month production total for 66 countries to 1.212 billion metric tons, a 3.7% decline from the comparable total for January-September 2014.

The World Steel monthly report summarizes data for raw steel — the output of basic oxygen furnaces and electric arc furnaces, prior to alloying to specific grades and casting into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. The results include data for carbon and carbon alloy steel output. Stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.

In addition to the declining production totals, the Association reported the September raw-steel capacity utilization rate for the 66 countries was 69.3%, up 1.3% from August and down 4.0% compared to September 2014.

The steadily declining activity in the global steel industry confirms the World Steel Association’s recent short-term outlook for steel demand: it forecast that the current year’s demand total would fall 1.7% below the 2014 total, down to 1.513 billion metric tons. For 2016, it forecast global steel demand growing 0.7% to 1.523 billion metric tons.

While the declining output is widely felt among the major steelmaking nations and regions, the falling output in China is the most noteworthy, as that nation has produced roughly half of all the world’s steel for each year since the turn of the century. In the past several years, however, China has been consolidating steel enterprises to reduce excess capacity, stabilize steel prices and management, and improve environmental standards. In the current cycle, China’s weakening industrial output is contributing to the decline in steelmaking activity.

In September, China’s raw steel production fell 1.2% from August to 66.1 million metric tons, and that result is down by 3.0% compared to September 2014. For the year-to-date, Chinese steel output is down 3.0% compared to the same nine-month period of 2014.  

Japanese steelmakers produced 8.6 million metric tons of raw steel in September 2015, down 2.54% from August’s result and down 7.3% compared to September 2014.

In India, raw steel production fell 2.2% from August to 7.3 million metric tons in September, a decline of 1.4% versus last September’s output.

Asia’s other large steelmaking nation, South Korea, produced 5.6 million metric tons during September, a 3.24% decline from August and a 2.67% decline from September 2014.

In the EU, Germany is the largest steelmaking nation. German producers’ output of 3.4 million metric tons of raw steel in September represented a decrease of 1.49% from August, and of -3.9% compared to September 2014.

Italian steelmakers produced 2.1 million metric tons during September, up 108.72% from August but down by 3.9% versus September 2014.

Spain produced 1.3 million metric tons of raw steel during September, 7.85% more than during August and 8.5% more than during September 2014.

In France, steelmaking rose 20.57% from August to 1.3 million metric tons during September, but the total is down 8.5% compared to the same month in 2014.

Turkish producers’ raw steel output during September was 2.5 million metric tons, down 2.8% compared to August and down 14.1% compared to September 2014.

In September, the Russian steel industry produced 5.5 million metric tons of raw steel, 8.54% less than during August and 3.2% less than during September 2014.

Steelmakers in Ukraine produced 2.1 million metric tons of raw steel last month, up 7.34% from August and up 14.1% from September 2014.

In Brazil, raw steel production for September 2015 decreased 10.64% from August to 2.5 million metric tons. That figure also is 13.0% less than the result for September 2014.

Finally, U.S. steelmakers produced 6.7 million metric tons (7.365 million short tons) of raw steel during September 2015, down by 3.66% from August and down 8.5% compared to September 2014. For the year-to-date, U.S. steel output stands at 60.63 million metric tons (66.83 million metric tons), off the pace set in 2014 by 8.6%.

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