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Carbon steel billets sold through service centers and distributors are the source of much of the raw material sourced by machine shops.

Global Steel Production Dropped in November

Year-over-year and year-to-date indicators remain solid, but falling prices appear to be dragging the latest monthly tonnage results.

Global steel production declined 4.5% from October to November, with a total of 148.6 million metric tons produced in 64 countries, according to the World Steel Association. The figure appears to indicate the effects of falling spot prices, but also confirms a recent World Steel Assn. forecast for slow but steady rises in steel output. The November result shows global steel production is still 5.75% ahead of the November 2017 total, and brings the year-to-date production total to 1.5 billion metric tons, or 5.1% higher than the January-November volume.

The World Steel Assn. reports raw-steel output for 64 countries, representing about 99% of the world’s raw-steel production output. In its recent short-range forecast, World Steel predicted 2018 raw-steel production would total 1.66 million metric tons worldwide.

Raw steel is the product of basic-oxygen and electric-arc furnaces, and cast into semi-finished products, like billets, blooms, and slabs. Most raw steel is produced on contract for large manufacturers, like automotive, appliance, and machinery builders. Less predictable is the amount produced for construction markets or for service centers and distributors.

The global steel market is largely shaped by the Chinese industry, which accounts for about half of all the steel produced worldwide. The Chinese industry has been under regulated modernization and consolidation over recent years, to curb excess production and to idle outdated or unproductive capacity.

World Steel AssnWorld Steel tonnage chart, Nov 2018

November 2018 raw-steel production for the 64 countries reporting to the World Steel Assn. fell 4.5% from October, but rose 5.1% year-over-year to 148.6 million metric tons.

In November, China’s steelmakers produced 77.6 million metric tons of raw steel, 5.97% less than during October but 10.8% more than during November 2017. Year-to-date production in China is now at 782 million metric tons, 7.5% more than last year’s 11-month result.

Elsewhere in Asia, Japanese steelmakers produced 8.67 million metric tons of raw steel during November, less than 1% (+0.93%) over October but -0.52% compared to November 2017. At 87.2 million metric tons through November, Japan’s industry is nearly even (-0.08%) with last year’s result.

In India, November raw-steel production fell -3.2% from October to 8.49 million metric tons, which is -1.32% lower than the November 2017 total. The YTD result is 88.4 million metric tons, 8.49% higher than last year.

The South Korean steel industry produced 8.66 million metric tons during November, falling -4.1% behind October but 1.1% ahead of last November. The 11-month result is at 60.4 million metric tons, a 2.0% rise over last year.

Steel production in the European Union (28 nations) fell -2.8% from October to 14.14 million metric tons during November, 1.2% higher than November 2017. With 140.6 million metric tons produced through November, the EU stands nearly even (-0.5%) with its 11-month result from 2017.

Germany’s steelmakers produced 3.45 million metric tons during November, -3.2% less than during October and -2.9% less than during November 2017. Their YTD total raw-steel production stands at 35.5 million metric tons, or -2.56% less than 2017’s comparable result.

In Italy, November raw-steel production fell -5.37% from October to 2.2 million metric tons. That’s -2.9% lower than November 2017’s result, and bring the YTD total to 20.6 million metric tons, or 2.4% higher than the 11-month tally for 2017.

French steelmakers produced 1.35 million metric tons of raw steel during November, 3.3% more than during October and 12.75% more than during November 2017. Their year-to-date production total is at 14.26 million metric tons, nearly even (-0.23%) with the January-November 2017 running total.

Spanish steelmakers’ November raw-steel output was 1.3 million metric tons, just a little more (0.93%) than during October and just a little less (-0.73%) than during November 2017. Their YTD total is at 11.95 million metric tons, -1.26% versus the comparable figure for last year.

Turkey’s steel industry posted November production of 3.14 million metric tons during November, almost even (-0.74%) with October but down -2.1% from November 2017. Their 11-month total is 31.3 million metric tons, comparable (0.51%) with the January-November 2017 total.

Raw-steel production in Russia fell -3.17% from October to 5.68 million metric tons in November, which is -4.0% compared to last November’s figure. Russia’s YTD raw-steel output is at 60.29 million metric tons through November, down -1.15% compared to 2017.

In Ukraine, November raw-steel production fell -7.74% from October to 2.84 million metric tons. That brings the year-to-date tonnage volume to 17.6 million metric tons, a -1.15% decline from last year’s 11-month total.

In Brazil, raw-steel production dropped -9.8% from October to 2.84% in November, and that indicated a -6.15% decline from November 2017. The year-to-date output of 29.23 million metric tons represents a 1.76% improvement over January-November 2017.

U.S. steelmakers’ November production total of 7.4 million metric tons (8.16 million short tons) was a -1.75% decrease from October, but a rise of 11.82% from November 2017. Through November 2018, U.S. steelmakers have produced 71.74 million metric tons (79.1 million short tons), which is 5.71% higher than the comparable total for 2017.

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