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Consumption of crude steel totalled 5.09 million tonnes in April, down from 6.13 million tonnes in the corresponding month last year, according to figures released late last week by the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF).
This is the eighth consecutive month of drops since September, when consumption fell for the first time after twelve months of increases.
JISF calculates consumption by adding Japan’s production to its import figures and subtracting exports, all on a crude steel basis.
In April, both Japan’s crude steel production and imports fell, while export volumes experienced the largest rise since April 2013.
Crude steel output went down by 6.1% to 8.40 million tonnes, and imports dropped by 15.7% to 546,000 tonnes on a crude steel basis.
Exports, also on a crude steel basis, saw an 11.4% boost to 3.85 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, Japanese mills shipped 5.86 million tonnes of steel products in April, down by 2.3% year-on-year, with domestic shipment volumes dipping by 9.3% to 3.70 million tonnes and exports moving up by 12.7% to 2.15 million tonnes.
Shipments of hot rolled strip rose to 1.47 million tonnes from 1.31 million tonnes a year earlier, while plate despatches saw a rise to 862,000 tonnes from 860,000 tonnes.
For all other major products, shipment volumes fell – to 797,000 tonnes from 926,000 tonnes for galvanized sheet; to 737,000 tonnes from 763,000 tonnes for light bars; to 466,000 tonnes from 529,000 tonnes for cold rolled sheet and strip; and to 290,000 tonnes from 329,000 tonnes for H-beam.
Japanese steelmakers have reported a 17% fall in the country’s apparent steel consumption in April, the biggest drop for at least two years.