Japan July-Sept crude steel output seen up 30% y/y on demand recovery

A production line of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.'s Kimitsu steel plant is pictured in Kimitsu
FILE PHOTO: A production line of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.'s Kimitsu steel plant is pictured in Kimitsu, Chiba Prefecture, Japan, May 31, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

July 13, 2021

By Yuka Obayashi

TOKYO (Reuters) -Japan’s crude steel output is forecast to jump 30.1% in the July-September quarter from a year earlier, as demand is picking up from a pandemic-induced slump in the previous year, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said on Tuesday.

It would mark a second consecutive quarterly increase.

The ministry estimated crude steel output in the world’s No.3 steel producer to be 24.69 million tonnes for the July to September period, up from 18.98 million tonnes a year earlier, boosted by robust demand from industries such as automobile and machinery.

It expects to log a 1.2% increase from the previous quarter, thanks also to expanding public works as part of the government’s resilience plan to prevent and mitigate disaster impact, said Daisuke Matsuno, director of METI’s metal industries division.

“Manufacturing industry as a whole is on track for a recovery, except for ship-building,” Matsuno told a news conference.

The predicted steel output for this quarter will beat pre-pandemic production of 24.55 million tonnes in the same quarter in 2019, but it is not clear whether the nation’s annual output would reach pre-pandemic level, Matsuno said.

“We will need to watch closely how the recent resurgence in the COVID-19 pandemic would impact steel demand at home and abroad,” he said.

Demand for steel products, including those for exports, is forecast to increase 17.0% to 21.75 million tonnes in July-September versus a year earlier, the ministry said, citing an industry survey.

Exports are forecast to rise 26.7% to 7.35 million tonnes, the ministry said.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Louise Heavens)