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Global Steel Production Continued Steady Rise in March

April 24, 2017
All indicators show stability in demand and capacity utilization during Q1 2017 144.9 million metric tons +13.9% month/month, +4.6% year/year Short-range outlook is cautious
Following three years of instability due to weak demand and excess capacity, global raw steel production is steadily expanding in China and other major regional markets..

Global raw-steel production rose 13.9% from February to March, totaling 144.9 million metric tons in the latest monthly total issued by the World Steel Assn. That figure is 4.6% higher than the March 2016 total. With the latest figures, the raw-steel output climbed to 410.5 million metric tons through the first quarter of this year, 5.7% higher than last year’s January-March total.

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.

Also in the March report, World Steel indicated that the global raw-steel capacity utilization was 72.7%, which is 2.0% higher than the February figure and 2.2% higher than the March 2016 rate.

The latest results continue to indicate that the global industry has regained its footings after nearly three years of weak demand and excess capacity. However, the World Steel Economics Committee recently issued its semi-annual Short Term Outlook, in which it forecasts further weakness for the global industry, based on political and demand-based risks, notably in China but also in other developed and developing markets.

China remains the largest steelmaking nation, and March it produced 71.9 million metric tons of raw steel. That represents a 17.7% increase over February’s tonnage and a 1.8% increase over the March 2016 total. For the year to date, China’s steel industry has produced 201.1 million metric tons of raw steel, which is 4.5% higher than the three-month total for 2016.

The rest of Asia’s major producers also delivered strong results during March: Japan’s industry produced 8.9 million metric tons for the month, 1.5% more than during January-March 2016; Indian steelmakers produced 25.7 million metric tons, up 10.7% year-to-date; and South Korean steelmakers producing 17.25 million metric tons for the month, and 4.6% more than during Q1 2016.

In the European Union, raw-steel production totaled 15.0 million metric tons during March, up 12.5% over February, and 6.7% higher than March 2016. It brought the region’s year-to-date production total to 42.5 million metric tons, 3.8% higher than during Q1 2016.

Germany’s steelmakers produced 3.88 million metric tons, up 1.9% over last March. Its three-month total output is now 10.98 million metric tons, 1.8% more than last year’s January-March period.

The Italian industry produced 2.2 million metric tons last month, 13.1% more than during February and 9.5% more than during March 2016. Through three months of this year, Italy’s raw-steel output is up 5.5%.

French steelmakers increased production by 7.5% from February, up to 1.33 million metric tons. That represents an increase of 18.1% from last March, and brings the year-to-date total to 3.9 million metric tons, up 3.3%.

Spain’s steel industry increased output by 27.0% from February to March, totaling 1.4 million metric tons. That comprises a 15.7% rise over last March, and brings the first-quarter 2017 total to 3.6 million metric tons, just 0.9% higher than last year’s comparable total.

The Turkish steel industry produced 3.1 million metric tons during March, up 13.6% from February and up 14.0% from March 2016. The year-to-date total is now 8.78 million metric tons of raw steel, 14.1% over the three-month result from last year.

Russia’s steelmakers produced 6.185 million metric tons of raw steel last month, 10.7% more than during February and 1.4% more than during March 2016. Their three-month total for 2017 is 17.9 million metric tons, 4.1% higher than last year’s comparable figure.

The Ukrainian steel industry produced 2.1 million metric tons during March, a 10.8% month-to-month increase but a 4.5% decline over the February 2016 total. Their year-to-date raw-steel output is 6.1 million metric tons, down 0.1% versus last year’s January-March total tonnage.

In Brazil, raw-steel output during March totaled 2.85 million metric tons, up 10.8% from February and up 13.7% over the March 2016 total. The nation’s three-month output is now 8.25 million metric tons, up 10.9% over the comparable figure for 2016.

Finally, raw steel production by U.S. steelmakers was 7.003 million metric tons (7.72 short million tons), a 9.0% increase over February and a 3.4% increase over March 2016. The year-to-date raw-steel production total for the U.S. is now 20.4 million metric tons (22.5 million short tons), which is 3.8% higher than last year’s three-month total.

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