Adds details and background on data from paragraph 3
BEIJING, Jan 17 (Reuters) - China's crude steel output in 2023 was flat from a year earlier, official data showed on Wednesday, steadying after two consecutive years of decline, as mills ramped up production to generate cashflow and faced fewer emissions curbs.
The world's largest steel producer manufactured approximately 1.02 billion metric tons of the ferrous metal last year, data from the country's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.
Beijing's introduction of a cap on steel output to reduce carbon emissions had caused output to drop 3% in 2021 and 1.7% in 2022.
The absence of such caps in 2023, when priority was placed on supporting the economy and reviving the ailing property sector, contributed to a stabilising of steel output, according to analysts.
Robust demand from the shipbuilding, solar photovoltaic and automotive sectors partially offset a shortfall in demand from the property sector, offering support to steel in 2023, Citi analysts said in a note.
Output of steel reinforcing bar (rebar), mainly used in the construction sector, fell 2.2% from a year earlier to 209.74 million tons in the first 11 months of 2023, official data showed.
Crude steel production in December extended its decline into a fifth consecutive month, falling by 11.4% from November to 67.44 million tons, the lowest monthly output since December 2017, according to the NBS data.
An increasing number of Chinese steelmakers implemented maintenance on blast furnaces last month amid mounting pressure from either environmental protection-related production restrictions or widening losses, analysts said.
The December total equated to about 2.18 million tons of average daily output, according to a Reuters calculation based on the data.
(Reporting by Amy Lv and Andrew Hayley; Editing by Edmund Klamann)