Members of the China Iron & Steel Association (Cisa) produced crude steel at an average rate of 1.9 million tonnes per day during the second 10 days of March, up 0.95% from 1.88 million tpd in early March, according to data released by the industry body on Wednesday April 3.

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

These mills had 13.85 million tonnes of finished steel in their inventories on March 20, down 4.72% from 14.54 million tonnes on March 10, according to Cisa. Steel demand from end markets increased gradually in the middle of March amid improved weather, which resulted in higher output and lower inventories at mills, sources said.

Meanwhile, steel prices picked up on strengthening demand.

Prices for hot-rolled coil in eastern China, for instance, were at 3,860-3,880 yuan ($574-577) per tonne on March 20, up 40-50 yuan per tonne from 3,820-3,830 yuan per tonne on March 8, according to Fastmarkets MB’s price archive.