Global, China steel output growth sluggish
LONDON (Reuters) - Global and Chinese crude steel production growth was sluggish in April as steelmakers adjusted their output to weaker demand and falling prices in what should be the most active period of the year, data from an industry body showed.
Global steel production rose by only 1.2 percent in April compared with the same month last year, to 128 million metric tons (141 million tons), according to data released on Monday by The World Steel Association (Worldsteel).
Steel output in China, the world's largest producer and consumer of the alloy, rose by 2.6 percent to 60.6 million metric tons in April.
"Weak steel demand in Europe and slowing growth in Asia has sent global steel prices plummeting recently," said Martin Evans, metals products director at the CME group, in a note.
"With fewer buyers, the trend is expected to continue over the next three months, as stocks at steel mills continue to rise, and order turnaround for steel quickens."
Steel consumption generally peaks in the northern hemisphere spring, as construction and manufacturing activity quickens in the warm, dry months preceding the summer break.
Global steel consumption growth will slow in 2012, hit by weaker economic growth in top consumer China and uncertainties about the debt crisis in the euro zone, Worldsteel forecast last month.
Steel output in Italy, the European Union's second-biggest producer after Germany, rose by 3.4 percent year on year to 9.797 million metric tons in the first four months of 2012, Italy's steel industry body Federacciai said on Monday.
April output fell 3.2 percent to 2.409 million metric tons, data published on Federacciai's website (www.federacciai.it) showed. Federacciai gave no comment to the data.
Electricity prices, among the highest in Europe, put Italian steel makers at a competitive disadvantage against their main rivals, especially from outside the EU, Federacciai has said.
(Reporting by Silvia Antonioli, additional reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova in Milan,; editing by William Hardy)
Protesters respond to calls to defend their demonstration from possible police intervention. Slideshow