TOKYO : Japan’s crude steel output fell 3.1 per cent in April from a year earlier, sliding for a 16th straight month, as slow local demand and slumping overseas prices forced steelmakers to reduce output, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Tuesday.
Production in the world’s third-biggest steelmaking country has been on a downtrend since last year as a global chip shortage and COVID-19 lockdowns in China have repeatedly delayed a recovery in output by Japanese automakers.
Crude steel output, which is not seasonally-adjusted, dropped to 7.24 million tonnes for April, marking the longest consecutive monthly fall since 2014-2016 when consumption of cars and houses slumped after a sales tax hike, an analyst at the federation said.
Output decreased 3.3 per cent from March.
“Automobile production is finally recovering, but at a slower-than-expected pace,” the analyst said, adding that weaker prices in overseas markets amid sluggish demand in China was denting Japanese steelmakers’ appetite to export.
Prices of steel in China, such as rebar on the Shanghai Futures Exchange and hot-rolled coil, have been under pressure since mid-March on pessimism over demand prospects in top steel consumer China.