China Dec steel output rises from prior month, annual output falls


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China’s December steel output rose 4.5% from the prior month, official data showed on Tuesday, as demand for the material used in construction increased following stepped-up government support for the property sector.

China, the world’s largest steel maker, produced 77.89 million tonnes last month, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, up from 74.54 million tonnes in November.

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Production, however, was down 9.8 % from a year earlier.

Output for 2022 was 1.01 billion tonnes, down 2.1% from last year, the second annual decline.

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China’s steel mills have struggled with weak margins in recent months because of sluggish demand from a slowing economy and weak activity in the property sector.

December’s average daily steel output in China was 2.51 million tonnes, according to Reuters calculations, a slight increase from November’s daily output of 2.49 million tonnes, the lowest in a year.

Demand from the construction sector is expected to remain weak because of the depressed property market.

While the central government has announced measures to support cash-strapped property developers, they are focussed on keeping quality developers afloat, rather than aggressively boosting demand, said analysts at Jefferies in a recent note.

As a result, upstream building materials such as steel have a “way to go before finding the bottom,” they said.

Jefferies expects total crude steel output in 2023 to decrease by 2% year-on-year because of profit-driven output cuts in a weak market and policy-induced cuts to contain carbon emissions. (Reporting by Dominique Patton and Andrew Hayley; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christian Schmollinger)


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