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China Steel Output Hits Record in May

BEIJING — China’s crude steel output in May rose 2.6% from a year earlier to a record 70.43 million metric tons, the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday.

The high volume indicates that Chinese mills are extending their production runs for the key metal — a barometer of industrial activity — as they ramp up steel exports and gear up to meet demand from a small raft of infrastructure projects authorized by the government earlier this year.

China posted a record level of 6.85 million tons of net exports of steel products in May, up 10% from a month ago, customs data showed. The export bump has caused heightened trade tensions with the U.S. and Europe, major destinations for such shipments.

Washington last month imposed preliminary anti-subsidy tariffs of 159.2% on imports of Chinese grain-oriented electrical steel, which is used to make transformers. The European steel lobby Eurofer has said it planned to file antidumping complaints later this year with the European Commission against Chinese exports of cold-rolled stainless steel.

Measured on a daily-output basis, China’s steel production ebbed slightly to 2.27 million tons a day in May, slightly lower than 2.295 million tons posted in April.

China’s government has vowed to reduce excess capacity in its state-owned steel industry, but production has continued apace as Beijing worries about slowing economic growth. Output in the first five months rose 2.7% on year to 342.52 million tons, the bureau said Friday.

Iron ore imports have also been extraordinarily high so far this year, customs data showed on Sunday. Imports in the first five months rose 19% to 383 million tons. The government says it could be another year for record steel production in China this year.

Source – WSJ

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