Global raw steel production remained essential flat from December to January, +0.79%, and finishing the first month of 2016 at 127.7 million metric tons. That total, however, was 7.1% less than the January 2015 raw steel tonnage, a rate of decline that was reflected in all the major steel producing nations.

The data is supplied by the Brussels-based World Steel Association, which tracks raw (or ‘crude’) steel production and capacity utilization on a monthly basis for its 66 member nations.

Last fall, World Steel Assn. forecast continued weak demand for steel products, predicting global steel demand would grow 0.7% to 1.523 billion metric tons by the end of 2016. 2015 steel production.

China, by far the world’s largest steel-producing nation, saw a 1.8% decline from December to 63.2 million metric tons. That result is down 7.8% from the January 2015 tonnage.

Chinese central planners have been working to consolidate the number of steel producers and eliminate excess production capacity, but the nation is also working its way through a prolonged industrial slowdown, and its export opportunities are limited by weak global industrial activity.

In Japan, raw steel production totaled 8.8 million metric tons in January, up 2.1% from December but down 2.8% versus January 2015.

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