Japanese steel output up on the year in June

Crude steel production in Japan fell in June compared with the previous month but still posted a year-on-year increase on improving demand, the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF) said.

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Total output in June hit 9.28 million tonnes, a rise of 0.9% on the year but 3.6% lower than in May.

Year-on-year output figures have now gone up for four consecutive months, which contributed to a year-on-year increase of 1.2% over the first six months of 2013 to 54.71 million tonnes.

Construction demand remained solid last month for condominiums, warehouses and commercial facilities in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which helped fuel domestic steel demand at a time when exports are weakening, and leading to a robust increase in output of long products.

On the other hand, output of flat products such as cold rolled coil, galvanized steel sheet and electrical sheet fell on the month as well as on the year, indicating that while demand from the manufacturing sector is improving, it is still far from entrenched.

Total output of carbon steel in June rose by 1.5% year-on-year to 7.23 million tonnes, although it retreated by 3.3% from May. For the first half, volumes rose 3.6% to 42.76 million tonnes.

However, speciality steel output posted an 11th straight month of year-on-year declines, falling by 1.1% in June to 2.04 million tonnes. Volumes were also down by 4.6% month-on-month. For the first half, output fell 6% to 11.94 million tonnes.

Output at the country’s four blast furnace operators in June totalled 7.04 million tonnes, up 1.3% year-on-year but down 5.2% month-on-month.

In contrast, output of electric arc furnace steel declined by 0.4% year-on-year to 2.23 million tonnes, down for the 11th straight month, although volumes were up 1.9% from the previous month.

For the first six months of the year, output at blast furnace operators were up 3.2% year-on-year to 42.21 million tonnes, while that at mini-mills was down 5% to 12.49 million tonnes.

Production levels are expected to continue rising in the next few months as the effects of the weak yen begin to be felt by the country’s mills in the form of increased consumption by the manufacturing sector, while demand from the construction sector remains firm.