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Japan mills plan higher Apr-Jun output on firmer domestic demand

Japanese steel producers are planning to raise crude steel production in the current quarter to 26.93 million mt, up 3.4% year on year and 2% from January-March, according to a survey released Friday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry.

METI officials in charge of the survey were not available for comment Tuesday, but a Tokyo-based trader said the plan to boost output is on the back of firmer domestic demand and higher exports.

“The production plan for export is also higher, but the export in April-June 2017 was low, so total volume planned [for April-June 2018] is not a high level,” he said.

“We understand mills are planning to limit production for export, to [prioritize] supplying to domestic customers,” he said.

Finished steel output for the domestic market is expected to reach 15.9 million mt in the quarter, up 6.3% year on year and 2.3% from January-March, while output for export is planned at 7.67 million mt, up 2.6% year on year but down 0.2% from the previous quarter.

The production plan for byproduct H-beam during the current quarter is 1.12 million mt, up 19.5% year on year and 8.8% quarter on quarter, and for small bars is 2.26 million mt, up 5.1% on the year and 9.5% from the previous quarter.

A Tokyo-based construction steel trader said Japan’s housing starts have been slower, but construction projects for non-housing have been active and are expected to increase over summer.

“Construction steel demand is expected to stay firm for a while, [and] production of these products will stay at a high level,” he said.
Source: Platts

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