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February Tonnage Shows Global Steel Output Stabilizing

March 26, 2017
Encouraging year-on-year (+4%) and YTD (+6%) results China, +5.8% YTD EU, +1.6% YTD U.S., +3.55% YTD

Raw steel production fell 8.2% from January to February, totaling in 126,579,000 in the latest monthly tally for 67 countries, reported by the World Steel Association. That figure represents a 4.1% increase over the February 2016 total, and brings 2017 total global steel production to 26,416,000 million metric tons, a rise of 5.8% year-to-date versus the 2016 two-month total.

After about three years of instability due to weak demand and excess capacity, global raw steel production appears to be gaining stability.

World Steel Assn. noted that February 2016 had 29 days, a point that seems to enhance the improvement in the latest figures. It may also lessen the significance of the current month-to-month decline.

The World Steel Assn. documents raw-steel output and capacity utilization rates for 67 countries. Raw (or crude) steel is the output of basic oxygen furnaces and electric arc furnaces that is cast into semi-finished products, such as slabs, blooms, or billets. World Steel reports tonnage and capacity utilization data for carbon and carbon alloy steel in 67 countries; data for production of stainless and specialty alloy steels are not included.

The raw steel capacity utilization rate is also encouraging: during February, raw-steel capacity utilization worldwide was 70.3%, up 1.1% from January and up 4% from the February 2016 rate.

In an October 2016 forecast for global steel demand, the Association forecast that 2017 global steel demand would increase 0.5% to 1.51 billion metric tons this year. The February results add to recent evidence of growing stability in the global steel industry — particularly in China and India — which for about three years has been beset with weak demand and excess capacity.

Chinese raw steel production for February was estimated at 61.2 million metric tons, down 9.5% from January but 4.6% higher than February 2016. China’s year-to-date steel output is 128.8 million metric tons, 5.82% higher than the January-February 2016 total.  

In Japan, February raw steel production fell 7.4% from January to February, to 8.3 million metric tons. That total is nearly even, -0.1%, with February 2016’s output, and brings the 2017 YTD total to 17.3 million metric tons, 1.3% higher than 2016’s comparable figure.

Indian raw steel production totaled 8.1 million metric tons during February, 6.2% less than January, and 8.9% more than February 2016.  The two-month total for this year is 16.8 million metric tons, 12.1% higher than last year’s January-February tonnage results.

The South Korean steel industry produced 5.5 million tons during February, 2.5% less than the January output, but an 8.3% increase over the February 2016 figure. The nation’s year-to-date result is 11.15 million metric tons, 3.6% higher than 2016’s YTD total.

Across the European Union, raw steel production was down 5.25% from January, but remained nearly even (-0.6%) with February 2016, and stands 1.65% higher than last year’s year-to-date result.

In Germany, the largest steelmaking nation in the E.U., February raw steel production totaled 3.5 million metric tons, down 5.3% from January but up 2.6% versus the February 2016 tonnage. The nation’s January-February total is 7.1 million metric tons, 1.85% higher than the comparable 2016 figure.

Italian steelmakers produced 2.0 million metric tons of raw steel during February, 8.1% more than during January and 1.2% more than during February 2016. The cumulative total for 2017 is 3.8 million metric tons, just 0.8% more than last February’s YTD total.

The French steel industry produced 1.2 million metric tons of raw steel in February, 6.7% less than in January, and 5.8% less than during February 2016. The YTD total also is down, -2.9% compared to January-February 2016.

Steelmakers in Spain produced 1.1 million metric tons of raw steel during February, down 2.1% from January and down 4.6% compared to February 2016. For January-February 2016, the Spanish steel industry has produced 6.6% less than during the comparable period of 2016.

Turkey’s raw steel production totaled 2.7 million metric tons during February, 6.5% less than during January but up 15.6% over the February 2016 total. The YTD total is 5.67 million metric tons, 14.1% higher than last year’s two-month total.

Russian steelmakers produced 5.6 million metric tons during February, 9.7% less than during January but nearly even (-0.3%) with the February 2016 output. Russia’s YTD raw steel production stands at 11.8 million metric tons, 5.6% more than the two-month result for 2016.

In the Ukraine, February raw steel production fell 9.6% from January to 1.9 million metric tons, 3.6% less than February 2016. The YTD output is 4.0 million metric ton, 2.4% more than the January-February 2016 total.

Steelmakers in Brazil produced 2.6 million metric tons of raw steel during February, a decline of 9.0% from January but a rise of 5.7% from February 2016. For the year-to-date, the Brazilian industry has produced 5.4 million metric tons of raw steel, 9.5% more than during the January-February 2016 period.

Finally, the U.S. steel industry produced 6.4 million metric tons (7.0 million short tons) of raw steel in February 2017, 8.8% less than during January and 1.0% less than during February 2016. U.S. steelmakers have produced 13.3 million metric tons during the first two months of 2017, 3.5% more than during January-February 2016.

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