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Chinese crude steel output back above 70 million tonnes in March

Asia – In March, global crude steel capacity utilisation exceeded 70% for the first time since June last year. The rate of 70.5% for the 66 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (WSA) represented an increase of 3.9 percentage points over February this year but was still 1.3 percentage points shy of the figure recorded for March 2015.

The total output of those same countries was 0.5% lower than in March last year at 137.322 million tonnes while the tally of 385.671 million tonnes for the first three months of 2016 was 3.6% short of that for the corresponding period of last year when a fraction over 400 million tonnes was produced.

The capacity utilisation increase in March coincided with China’s output returning above 70 million tonnes for a year-on-year increase of almost 3% whereas its first-quarter production was 3.2% lower than for the same period last year at 192.01 million tonnes.

India also upped its output in March (+3.4%) to give a three-month running total for this year of 22.913 million tonnes – a gain of 1.8% over the first quarter of 2015. Making the same comparisons, Turkey also recorded year-on-year increases for March (+1.3%) and for the first quarter (+1.9% to 7.697 million tonnes).

When compared to March 2015, US crude steel production was almost 5% higher in the same month of this year whereas the three-month total was 1.3% in arrears at 19.628 million tonnes.

Similarly for the Middle East, March production was 3.9% higher but the first-quarter total dipped 2.3%. Elsewhere, the WSA statistics reveal that lower March numbers contributed to year-on-year production declines for the following countries/regions when viewed across the first quarter as a whole: the EU-28 (-7%); Russia (-5.2%); Japan (-3.6%); South Korea (-4.3%); South America (-14.1%); Africa (-22.6%); and Oceania (-12%).

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