Raw steel production rose 3.2% worldwide during May, rising to 136,302 million metric tons from 132,116 million metric tons reported for April. The monthly increase continued a month-to-month, down/up/down trend in steel output dating to December 2012.
The World Steel Association, the Brussels-based trade group that represents steelmakers in 63 countries, supplied the results.
May’s tonnage gains were widespread — Asia, the U.S., and the European Union — in contrast to several recent monthly summaries showing narrow production increases confined mainly to China’s steelmakers.
“Raw” (or crude steel, in World Steel's reporting) describes the primary 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 monthly report totals the global carbon and carbon alloy steel output; Stainless steels and other specialty alloy steels are not included.
The May global tonnage represents a 2.6% year-to-year increase over the May 2012 total, and it brings the current year-to-date total to 658,002 million metric tons. That puts the five-month total for 2013 7.0% above the January-May 2012 total.
The Chinese industry once more outdistanced all others in its production volume for the latest month. China’s 67,034 million metric tons of output during May represents slightly less than half of all steel produced for the month.
China’s May result also represented a 7.3% increase over the May 2012 output.
The rest of Asia produced 23,942 million metric tons during May – better by far than any other region in the summary report, even without China’s contribution.
Japan’s steelmakers had a May total raw steel output of 9,622 million metric tons, a 4.9% improvement over their April total, and an increase of 4.3% over the May 2012 result.
South Korean producers reported 5,530 million metric tons, a 6.0% rise over the previous month, but a -7.1% drop from May 2012’s total.
Tonnage Up, Capacity Utilization Down
In the European Union, the total regional output for May was 14,711 million metric tons, better than the April tonnage by 4.6%, but off the pace of May 2012 by -4.7%
German steelmakers’ output during May was 3,653 million metric tons, up from the April total by 2.5%, but down by -1.4% from the May 2012 tonnage.
Italian raw steel output increased 9.5% during May, from 2,115 million metric tons during April to 2,316 million metric tons for the latest month. However, the new result indicated a decline of -11.1% from the May 2012 result.
Month-to-month and year-to-year declines were reported for France and Spain, too.
Raw steel production in the U.S. during May total 7,522 million metric tons. That total was 3.6% higher than the April output, 7,258 million metric tons, but down by -4.9% from 7,913 million metric tons recorded for May 2012.
For the year to date, U.S. steelmakers have produced 36,169 million metric tons of raw steel, which is off the pace set in 2012 by -6.2%.
The Brazilian steel industry reported 3.0 million metric tons of raw steel production during May, a 1.6% improvement over the April output, and a 5.5% improvement over the May 2012 report.
The World Steel Assn. reported that global raw steel capacity utilization during May “remained nearly unchanged,” slipping -0.4 percentage points from 80.0% recorded during April to 79.6% for the current month. The new result is also -0.9 percentage points lower than the ratio on record for May 2012.