Paragraph entered by Atlantic migration, in order for SteelFirst articles to display correctly on Metal Bulletin.

Member mills of the China Iron & Steel Assn (Cisa) produced an average of 1.6815 million tpd of crude steel during the first ten days of the month, down 5% from the preceding period, according to data released by the industry body on Wednesday March 18.

Cisa member mills, which are mainly medium-sized and large steelmakers, account for roughly 80% of the country’s total steel output.

The output decline was within expectations, as mill curbed production due to the lacklustre market performance following the Chinese New Year holiday, industry sources said.

As at March 13, the average blast furnace utilisation rate in Hebei province – the country's steelmaking hub – stood at 88.9%, compared with 89.2% a week ago.

“The lower steel output, along with the possible demand improvement in spring season, is likely to offer some upward momentum to the spot market,” a Beijing-based analyst said.

As at March 10, Cisa member mills’ combined finished steel output totalled 17.3653 million tonnes, up 1.4% from February 28 levels, according to data from the association.