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Japan 2017 crude steel output inches down to 8-year low

Crude steel output in Japan, the world’s second-biggest producer, dropped 0.1 percent in 2017 to its lowest in eight years, as a series of glitches at steel plants led to slower production despite strong demand at home and abroad.

The lower result occurred despite the latest in a series of signs of broader improvement in the world’s third-largest economy. Crude steel output last year fell for a third straight year to 104.66 million tonnes, the lowest volume since 2009, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Tuesday.

“Maintenances and glitches at some steel plants caused a reduction in output in the April to June and July to September quarters,” said a researcher at the Federation who asked not to be identified.

JFE Steel, Japan’s second-biggest steelmaker, in September trimmed its annual crude steel output by about 300,000 tonnes due to a system trouble at its East Japan Works, near Tokyo. “But demand has been fairly strong in Japan, driven by healthy orders from automakers as well as a number of redevelopment projects in the Tokyo metropolitan area and constructions of new warehouses across the nation,” the researcher said.

Crude steel output in Japan for the October to December quarter was flat from a year earlier at 26.39 million tonnes.

Output in December, which is not seasonally adjusted, climbed 0.1 percent from a year earlier to 8.72 million tonnes. It increased 0.2 percent from November.

Last month, the Federation forecast that the nation’s crude steel output in the financial year that starts in April is likely to rise slightly from the current year because of firm demand in Japan and abroad.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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