Global Steel Output Surges 29%

With the rebound in production, the global steel industry was operating at 82% of its capacity in May, up 15 percentage points from May 2009.

As output exceeded levels before the economic crisis depressed demand, global steel production surged 29% in May from the level in May 2009, the World Steel Association said on June 21.

The 66 countries belonging to the trade body saw production reach 124 million metric tons in May, up from 96 million in May 2009 as the world economy was just beginning to emerge from crisis.

China's booming economy accounted for the bulk of the output, churning out 56 million tons of steel, up 20.7% over 12 months.

Meanwhile, Japan, the second-biggest producer with 9.7 million tons, saw its production surge by 50% while U.S. output rebounded 73.8% to 7.2 million tons.

German steel mills saw an even more dramatic comeback with their output jumping 78.7% to 4.1 million tons.

The global economic slowdown that started in the second half of 2007 hit demand for steel products hard in 2008 as shell-shocked consumers cut back spending on new cars and new construction collapsed in the face of a credit crunch.

"World crude steel production in May 2010 was 9.9% higher in comparison with May 2007, before the impact of the global economic crisis was felt," the organization said.

"However, while China, South Korea and Turkey showed increased crude steel production in May 2010 compared to the same month 2007, the US, Italy, Spain and Japan are not yet back to pre-crisis production levels," it added.

With the rebound in production, the global steel industry was operating at 82% of its capacity in May, up 15 percentage points from May 2009, but down slightly from 83.4% in April this year, the organization said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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