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Global Steel Production Pauses Again

Dec. 28, 2020
The November tonnage slipped -3.1% from the previous month, but the year/year result now stands 6.6% ahead of 2019, as China increases its share of the worldwide market.

Global steel production declined to 158.3 million metric tons during November, down -3.1% from October, and yet 6.6% higher than the November 2019 total. The November continue to show the lingering effects of weak or depleted demand from manufacturing and construction markets: Most of the world’s major steelmaking nations continue to struggle with demand weakened by Covid-19 pandemic, with the notable exception of China, which has expanded its overall output through the course of the year and increased its percentage share of global output.

For the current year to-date, the 64 nations reporting raw-steel production data to the World Steel Assn. have produced 1.67 million metric tons, -1.3% less than the comparable total for January-November 2019. World Steel’s monthly summary of raw-steel data describes the output of basic oxygen furnaces and electric arc furnaces, mainly carbon and alloy steels, cast as billets, blooms, rounds, blooms, or slabs. Stainless steel is not included in the total. 

In October, World Steel projected that 2020 steel demand will drop by -2.4% year-over-year, to 1.725 billion metric tons – indicating that the current rate of output is on track for that forecast. For 2021, World Steel foresees steel demand recovering 4.1% year-over-year, to 1,795.1 million metric tons.

Despite the sluggish output among most of the top steelmaking nations, China’s industry produced 87.7 million metric tons of raw steel during November, -4.93% less than during October but 7.97% more than during November 2019. For January through November 2020, Chinese steel production totals 961.16 million metric tons, 5.5% higher than last year’s 11-month result.

Through November 2020, China’s raw-steel production represents 73.8% of the total global output.

Indian steelmakers produced 9.2 million metric tons of raw steel during November, -1.9% less than October but 3.5% more than November 2019. The YTD total is 89.4 million metric tons, -12.3% from last year’s result.

In Japan, raw-steel production totaled 7.3 million metric tons, 0.92% more than during October and down -5.9% versus November 2019. Japanese producers’ 11-month output for 2020 is 75.7 million metric tons, down by -17.3% from January-November 2019.

South Korea’s raw steel production for November 2020 was 5.8 million metric tons, down by -1.71% from October and -2.4% from November 2019.

European steel production is gaining some stability following a manufacturing recession and the pandemic. In November, the region comprising 28 nations produced a total of 12.8 million metric tons, 5.5% higher than the November 2019 total. However, the year-to-date total is 125.2 million metric tons, -14.% compared to January-November 2019.

Within these totals, German steelmakers produced 3.4 million metric tons during November, -1.2% less than in October but 14.8% more than in November 2019. German producers’ YTD total is 32.5 million metric tons, or -11.6% less than last year’s total.

In Italy, raw steel production for November of 2.05 million metric tons was -3.3% lower than October but 3.2% higher than the November 2019 result. The nation’s 11-month total for 2020 is 18.7 million metric tons, -14.2% lower than the 2019 figure.

French steelmakers produced 1.15 million metric tons during November, 7.9% more than in October and 3.7% more than in November 2019. The YTD result is 10.44 million, -22.8% lower than the 11-month total for 2019.

In Spain, November output rose 1.8% over October to 1.13 million metric tons, which is 11.2% higher than the November 2019 result. The YTD total is 10.04 million metric tons, o -21.7% off the 2019 pace.

Russian steelmakers produced 5.85 million metric tons during November, -3.22% less than during October and 1.9% more than during November 2019. Russia’s YTD output is estimated now at 65.2 million metric tons, just -0.6% less than last year’s comparable total.

The U.S. steel industry’s November output totaled 6.12 million metric tons (6.74 short tons), which is -1.7% less than the October total and -13.65% less than the November 2019 total. For the January-November 2020 period, U.S. steelmakers have produced 66.07 million metric tons (72.83 short tons), a YTD decrease of -17.9%.