Bloomberg News

China’s Crude Steel Output Falls to 14-Month Low as Demand Drops

December 09, 2011

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Crude steel output in China, the world’s biggest producer, fell to the lowest level in 14 months as a slower economy eroded demand and cut prices.

Output was 49.9 million metric tons in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said today in an e-mailed statement. That’s an 8.8 percent drop from 54.7 million tons a months earlier, and the lowest since September last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Production fell 0.2 percent from a year earlier, the bureau said.

The second-largest economy grew at the slowest pace since 2009 in the third quarter on weaker exports and monetary tightening, cutting demand for steel used in houses, cars and machinery. Chinese steelmakers are in a “severe winter” as prices fell from September, Wang Yifang, chairman of Hebei Iron & Steel Group, China’s biggest mill, said Nov. 16.

Domestic prices for hot-rolled coil, a benchmark product, fell 13 percent in the past three months to 4,229 yuan ($664) a ton yesterday, according to researcher Beijing Antaike Information Development Co. The northern province of Hebei, the biggest steelmaking region, has shuttered more than 20 iron furnaces and 20 rolling plants, partly because of the price plunge, the China Iron and Steel association said Oct. 31.

Profit margins at 77 large and medium-sized Chinese steelmakers narrowed to a record 0.47 percent in October, according to the association. That compares with 3.14 percent in the first half.

In the January-to-November period, crude-steel output gained 9.8 percent to 631 million tons from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said.

Iron-ore production rose 35 percent to 126.4 million tons in November. Output increased 27 percent to 1.2 billion tons in the first 11 months.

--Helen Yuan. Editors: Ryan Woo, Todd White.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Helen Yuan in Shanghai at hyuan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rebecca Keenan at rkeenan5@bloomberg.net.


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