Global crude steel production rose narrowly in February
following a decline a month ago as gains across Asia, Europe and
the Middle East capped declines in North and South America,
according to a recent World Steel Association ("WSA") report. The
gain came on the heels of higher production in China - the
world's biggest steel producer.
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The international trade body for the iron and steel industry
noted that crude steel production for 65 reporting nations crept
up 0.6% year over year in the reported month to 125 million tons
(Mt). This compares favorably with a 0.4% fall in January.
By regions, steel output moved up across Asia, European Union,
Other Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Oceania while falling
in North America, South America and the C.I.S.
Growth was seen across major Asian producers barring India, the
fourth-largest producer. Output from China went up 0.4% year over
year to 62.1 Mt in February following a 3.2% decline last month
due to sluggish industrial activities ahead of new year holidays.
Japan (the second largest producer) saw a 1.4% gain in output to
8.4 Mt. Production in India, however, slipped 3.2% to around 6.3
Mt. South Korea raked in a 6.2% gain to 5.3 Mt. Consolidated
production went up 0.6% to 83.7 Mt in Asia.
In North America, crude steel production in the U.S. - the
third-largest steelmaker - dipped 1.7% to 6.7 Mt. Output in
Canada and Mexico fell 9.3% and 1.5%, respectively, to around 1
Mt and 1.4 Mt, respectively. Overall production for the region
was down 2.7% to roughly 9.1 Mt.
In the Europe Union, production from Germany was up 4.2% to 3.6
Mt. Output rose 16.6% in the UK to 1 Mt while declining 3.9% to
1.2 Mt in France. Italy and Spain saw a 3.6% and 10.2% gain in
production, respectively, to 2.2 Mt and 1.2 Mt, respectively.
Production from Turkey went up 0.7% to 2.7 Mt. Total output rose
4.7% in the European Union to 13.9 Mt.
Output in the Middle East rose 6.9% to 2.2 Mt with gains
witnessed across Iran, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Africa recorded a
7.7% gain to 1.2 Mt riding on a 19.3% rise in South Africa.
Among other notable producers, production fell 3.1% in Russia to
5.3 Mt while rising 1.2% to 2.6 Mt in Brazil. Ukraine registered
a 10.7% decline to 2.3 Mt.
Crude steel capacity utilization ratio for the reporting
countries was 77.6% in February, down from 79.6% a year ago. The
ratio, however, improved from 74.4% in Jan 2014.
Steelmakers globally suffered the pangs of challenging steel
market fundamentals, European debt predicament and weak pricing
for the most part of 2013. Steel prices were hobbled by
overcapacity in the industry and weak demand, crimping margins of
major producers including
According to the WSA, world crude steel production rose 3.5% year
over year to 1,607 Mt in 2013 as gains across Asia, Middle East
and Africa more than offset declines in other regions.
With the global economic recovery gathering steam and activities
picking up in automotive and construction sectors, prospects look
healthy for the steel industry in 2014. The WSA sees continued
recovery in steel demand and expects global steel usage to
increase 3.3% this year factoring in higher contributions from
developed economies. Improving demand is also expected to perk up
A gradually healing economy, strength in the auto sector and a
rebound in non-residential construction and housing markets are
expected to help pull the U.S. steel industry out of its funk in
2014. Signs of stabilization in steel usage in the Euro zone also
look encouraging after a bumpy 2013, which bode well for recovery
prospects this year.