Japanese steel orders fell 1.9% in April

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Japanese steel orders fell by 1.9% in April, with a 5.6% drop in domestic consumption offsetting a 5.5% increase in export orders.

Total orders came in at 6.22 million tonnes, with domestic orders totalling 3.71 million tonnes and exports, 2.41 million tonnes.

Manufacturing sector steel orders fell for a second straight month in April, dropping by 2.7% to 1.65 million tonnes as manufacturers of automobiles, electrical equipment and machinery worked through stockpiles, according to data from the Japan Iron and Steel Federation.

Orders from automakers fell by 6.1% to 717,000 tonnes following a 5.4% drop in March, while those form electrical equipment manufacturers retreated by 3.3% to 129,000 tonnes.

On the other hand, an overall rebound in the domestic economy helped lift demand from industrial machinery and equipment manufacturers by 7.8% to 148,000 tonnes.

Orders from shipbuilders also rebounded, rising by 5.5% to 383,000 tonnes.

However, orders from the construction sector dropped by 9.6% to 956,000 tonnes, while those from dealers – an estimated 70% of which is destined for the construction industry – fell by 6.1% to 1.1 million tonnes.

“Orders always tend to fall in April because there is a lot of stocking and order-taking in March ahead of the end of the financial year, which distorts the figures.

“But there is still underlying domestic demand especially from the auto industry and re-construction sector while exports benefited from the falling yen,” an industry official told Metal Bulletin.

“But the rise of the yen again and the situation in Europe are major concerns for us going forward,” he added.

Sentiment among large Japanese companies worsened in the April-June period, a government survey showed on Monday June 11, deteriorating for the third consecutive quarter as the yen’s renewed strength and the ongoing eurozone crisis weighed on conditions.

But sentiment is expected to improve sharply through the end of the year, suggesting that companies see a recovery in the domestic economic continuing despite the turmoil in Europe and an uncertain outlook in the USA.

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