Steel mill Copyright David McNew, Getty Images

Steel Output Down in April, but Recovery is On Track

The positive global results are largely the result of improved activity in China, by far the world’s largest steelmaking industry.

April 2017 raw-steel production slipped by 1.0% from March to April, finishing the most recent month with 142.1 million metric tons across 67 countries. Still, the total is an increase of 5.0% over the April 2016 result and brings global year-to-date steel production to 550.84 million metric tons, 5.2% better than the January-April 2016 total.

These figures are supplied by the World Steel Association, which tracks global raw steel production and capacity utilization on a monthly basis. 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.

Global raw steel production is stabilizing in China and other major regional markets, after several years of weak demand, though the April results halted the steady improvement of previous months.

The April totals reconfirm that the global steel industry has recovered from a nearly three-year long period of weak demand and excess capacity. Even so, a mid-range forecast of steel demand suggests that the recovery will be modest, as political and industrial-market ambiguity (particularly in China) persist through 2017 and 2018.

The most recent’ month’s raw-steel capacity utilization rate for the 67 countries in World Steel’s coverage was 73.6%, up 1.7% over the March rate and up 2.5% over the April 2016 rate.

The positive global results are largely the result of improved activity in China, by far the world’s largest steelmaking industry. Chinese steelmakers produced 72.78 million metric tons of raw steel during April, an increase of 1.1% over the previous month but 4.9% more than last April’s result. Through the first four months of 2017, China’s steel industry has produced 273.87 million metric tons of raw steel, 4.6% more than the January-April 2016 total.

In Japan, April raw-steel output slipped 1.5% from March to 8.8 million metric tons during April, but that represents an increase of 3.0% over April 2016.  For the year-to-date, Japanese producers’ raw-steel production total is 34.98 million metric tons, just 1.9% more than during the comparable period of last year.

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American Machinist is an IndustryWeek companion site within Penton's Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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