China Oct crude steel output slips amid environmental restrictions, cooling demand

By Min Zhang and Shivani Singh

BEIJING, Nov 16 (Reuters) - China's crude steel output fell for the second straight month in October, slipping 0.4% from a month earlier, official data showed on Monday, as production was curtailed by environmental restrictions and an easing demand outlook for winter.

The world's top steelmaker produced 92.2 million tonnes of crude steel last month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, compared with 92.56 million tonnes in September. Though slightly down from the previous month, the number showed a 13% jump from October 2019.

Average daily output stood at 2.97 million tonnes in October, according to Reuters calculations based on the NBS data, dropping back from the daily record of 3.09 million tonnes logged in September.

Production at steel mills are typically disrupted by the country's 'winter cuts' - which mainly target the industrial sector in smog-prone northern cities - from November to March, with plants failing to meet environmental requirements being forced to curb their output.

But this year, the measures are not expected to have the same impact as most mills have completed environmental upgrades.

The average weekly capacity utilisation rates at blast furnaces in 163 Chinese mills stood at 84.3% in October, cooling from 84.6% a month earlier but above 79.1% in October 2019, consultancy Mysteel's data showed.

For the first 10 months of the year, China churned out 873.93 million tonnes of the industrial metal, up 5.5% from the same period in 2019, the statistics bureau data showed.

The China Iron and Steel Association said in October it sees China's crude steel output exceeding 1 billion tonnes in 2020 as the recovered downstream sector fuelled consumption.

(Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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