Global steel output falls 8.7% in May, but China lifts production

FILE PHOTO: Employees work at a factory of Dongbei Special Steel Group Co. Ltd. in Dalian, Liaoning province March 16, 2015. REUTERS/China Daily

LONDON (Reuters) - Global crude steel output slipped 8.7% in May to 148.8 million tonnes as many steelmakers shut operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even as top producer China was resilient and pumped out more of the metal.

Data from the World Steel Association on Monday showed a sharp contrast between steel production in China, which has largely been lifting its lockdowns, and the rest of the world.

Crude steel output from China, also the world’s biggest consumer of the metal, increased 4.2% year-on-year to 92.3 million tonnes in May.

But production tumbled 36.6% in the United States, 31.8% in Japan and 26.8% in the European Union, the data showed.

The decline in Japan, the world’s No. 3 steel producer, was the steepest monthly slide since June 2009, according to an analyst at the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, which released data on Monday.

Indian output slid by 39.1%, while the drop in South Korean production was less severe, at 14.1%, World Steel said.

The trade association, whose members account for about 85% of global steel production, forecast earlier this month that global steel demand was expected to fall 6.4% this year, but bounce back next year.

Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Edmund Blair and Pravin Char