Tokyo Steel keeps product prices unchanged for 5th month in June

TOKYO Sun May 18, 2014 11:40pm EDT

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TOKYO May 19 (Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co , Japan's top electric arc furnace steelmaker, said it will keep product prices unchanged for a fifth straight month in June as labour shortages curbed construction demand.

The company's pricing strategy is closely watched by Asian rivals such as POSCO, Hyundai Steel Co and Baosteel, which aim to boost exports to Japan.

"Inventory level has peaked and it is on the decline. But because of a shortage of workers, some construction projects have been delayed, and steel demand is still on the road to recovery," Tokyo Steel's Managing Director Kiyoshi Imamura told reporters on Monday.

Prices for its main product H-shaped beams, which are used in construction, will stay flat at 80,000 yen ($790) per tonne in June, the company said.

"But the overall picture is improving as stockpiles have peaked in March or April and many redevelopment projects in Tokyo and regional cities are expected to launch in and after July," Imamura said.

Inventories of H-beam steel at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp's distribution channels fell about 2 percent in April from the previous month to 228,500 tonnes, the first decline in six months, a spokeswoman at Japan's largest steelmaker said.

Nippon Steel's H-beam stock level is closely watched by the local industry as a gauge of demand for construction-related steels.

"We expect the stockpiles to keep falling through the next couple of months," she said. ($1 = 101.4600 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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