Tokyo Steel maintains product prices for eighth month

TOKYO Tue Aug 19, 2014 5:33am EDT

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TOKYO Aug 19 (Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co , Japan's top electric arc furnace steelmaker, said on Tuesday it will keep product prices unchanged for an eighth straight month in September due to an oversupply in the steel sheets market.

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.

"The domestic steel market is slowly recovering from July as the country's economy started to pick up after a downturn in the April-June period," Tokyo Steel's Managing Director Kiyoshi Imamura told reporters on Tuesday.

"But we'll keep our products steady to ensure that the recovery trend will continue."

Inventories of steel bars were declining while the steel sheets market was still facing an oversupply, he said.

Prices for Tokyo Steel's main product, H-shaped beams, which are used in construction, will stay flat at 80,000 yen ($779.80) per tonne in September.

Imamura also said the Utsunomiya plant in eastern Japan has been shut since Saturday after a problem in the electrical switchboard sparked a fire. It would take 3-4 weeks to resume operations and is expected to cost about 100 million yen to fix the facility, he added.

"We aim to deliver products to our customers of the Utsunomiya plant from our two other plants so that the supply will not be disrupted," Imamura said.

The Utsunomiya plant produced about 400,000 tonnes of steel products in the last business year that ended March 31, representing about 20 percent of the company's total production.

(1 US dollar = 102.5900 Japanese yen) (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)

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