Worldsteel reported Chinese crude steel production at 69.95 million metric tonnes in May, 1.7% lower than in May 2014. Chinese crude output in the first five months of 2015 was 1.0% lower than in the same period last year.

China’s net finished steel exports (exports minus imports) in May were about 8.1 million tonnes, 18% higher than in May 2014. Net exports for the first five months of 2015 were 37% higher than in January-to-May 2014.

China monthly crude steel production
January 2012 to May 2015

thousand metric tonnes

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Worldsteel published May’s world crude steel production on June 22nd. World crude steel production was 139.3 million metric tonnes, 2.1% lower than in May 2014. World output for the first five months of 2015 was 1.7% lower than in the same period last year.

China accounted for 50% of world production in May with output of 69.95M tonnes, down 1.7% compared to May 2014. Elsewhere in Asia, Japanese production declined 7.0%, South Korean output dropped 2.6%, but Indian output rose 4.0%. Outside of Asia, European Union production grew 0.7% between May 2014 and May 2015, despite a 5.4% fall in Germany and a 12.6% drop in Italy. Significant declines were also shown in the US, where production fell 8.5%, and in the Ukraine, where production was down 23.0%.

All the data for May 2015 and for a number of prior years can be found in the Nerds spreadsheet below.

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Based on reported import licenses, US long products imports dropped 33% from 516,000 short tons in April to 346,000 tons in May. Long products imports in May 2014 were 422,000 tons and in May 2013 they were 448,000 tons. Long products imports for the first five months of 2015 were 10% higher than in the same period last year.

The decline in imports in May was driven by rebar and parallel flange sections. Rebar imports fell mainly from Turkey and parallel flange sections imports declined from a number of countries including South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Long products licenses for June as reported mid-month on June 16th were 225,000 tons which is likely to mean that full-month June longs imports will not be that different from May’s.

SIMA US long products import licenses and import actuals
2012 to 2015

short tons

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Based on reported import licenses, US flat products imports rose 8% from 1,088,000 short tons in April to 1,175,000 tons in May. Flat products imports in May 2014 were 1,087,000 tons and in May 2013 they were 623,000 tons. Imports of flat products for the first 5 months of 2015 were 25% higher than in the same period last year, with cut plate imports up by 39%, hot roll up by 20%, cold roll up by 25%, and hot dip galvanized up by 25%.

The increase in flat products imports in May compared to April was driven mainly by higher hot roll and hot dip galvanized imports (and despite a fall in cold rolled imports by about 15%). Hot roll imports rose mainly from South Korea and hot dip galvanized imports increased mostly from China but also from Italy and Taiwan.

I will update the chart below to show mid-June licenses when the figures are published the week of June 15th.

SIMA US import licenses and actuals, flat products
May 2012 to May 2015

short tons

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Worldsteel reported Chinese crude steel production at 68.9 million metric tonnes in April, 0.7% lower than in April 2014. Chinese crude output in the first 4 months of 2015 was 0.9% lower than in the same period last year.

China’s net finished steel exports (exports minus imports) in April were 7.3 million tonnes, 18% higher than in April 2014. Net exports for the first 4 months of 2015 were 43% higher than in January-to-April 2014.

China monthly crude steel production
January 2012 to April 2015

thousand metric tonnes

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Worldsteel published April’s world crude steel production on May 22nd. World crude steel production was 135.4 million metric tonnes, 1.7% lower than in April 2014. World output for the first four months of 2015 was 1.5% lower than in the same period last year.

China accounted for 51% of world crude steel production in April with output of 68.9 million tonnes, down 0.7% compared to April 2014. Elsewhere in Asia, Japanese output was down 6.1% compared to last year April and South Korean production declined 6.6%. Other significant changes include a 9.8% reduction in output in the US and a 24.9% drop in the Ukraine, while crude production in the EU grew by 0.3%.

All the data for April 2015 and for a number of prior years can be found in the Nerds spreadsheet below.

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Based on reported import licenses, and after a significant rise in March, US long products imports declined 26% from 583,000 short tons in March to 432,000 tons in April. Long products imports in April 2014 were 410,000 tons and in April 2013 they were 249,000 tons. Long products imports for the first four months of 2015 were 12% higher than in the same period last year.

The decline in April was mainly due to lower rebar imports from Turkey and to a lesser extent from Japan (after imports from these countries increased significantly in March). Wire rod imports also fell, again mainly due to lower volumes from Turkey.

Long products import licenses for May as reported mid-month on May 19th were 225,000 tons which is likely to mean that full-month May longs imports will be a bit lower than April’s.

SIMA US long products import licenses and import actuals
2012 to 2015

short tons

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Ciao nerds di acciaio! You might be interested to know that the main exhibition of the Italian steel industry Made in Steel is taking place in Milan this Wednesday through Friday (May 20-22, 2015), right beside the location of the world Expo. All the largest Italian steelmakers will be present, including flat producers Ilva and Arvedi, as well as international players that have significant Italian investments such as ArcelorMittal, and of course, just as important, suppliers, distributors and processors.

For those of you who don’t know much about the Italian steel industry, Italy is the second largest steel producer of the European Union 28 countries behind Germany and ahead of France. Italian steelmakers produced 23.7 million tonnes of crude steel in 2014, 11.3 million tonnes of long products and 11.9 million tonnes of flat products. Steel exports from Italy in the same year included 4.3 million tonnes of long products and 6.8 million tonnes of flat products. 72% of output is produced via electric arc furnaces. The Italian steel industry, not unlike in many other countries, is facing stiff challenges at the moment including slow domestic demand, growing competition in export markets, and high energy costs. In addition, and in some cases as a result, a number of the largest steelmakers such as Ilva, AST (Terni), Piombino (former Lucchini), and Stefana, are undergoing ownership changes, capacity reductions or idlings, and/or legal claims. As the Americans say, it’s complicated. But if you’d like to know more, take a look at the Made in Steel website, the Italian steel industry association website, or send me your questions.

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