* Global crude steel output rose 3.1 percent in June
* China output near record levels, CIS growth strong
* Output growth roughly in line with growth in demand
By Maytaal Angel
LONDON, July 22 Global crude steel production
rose 3.1 percent in June from a year ago, remaining near record
levels as producers crank up output in response to an improving
economic outlook, data from the World Steel Association showed.
Crude steel output hit 137 million tonnes in June, nearing
the record seen in March, driven by a 4.5 percent year-on-year
growth in China to 69.3 million tonnes.
China produces around half the world's steel, but output
growth remained strong at 3.6 percent in North America and at
1.8 percent in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) -
the third and fourth-largest producing regions after Asia.
"What is encouraging is that from a global perspective
output in the world outside China has been rising since
September 2013 ... and global growth in the first half is not
all that out of line with growth in global demand," said VTB's
head of Commodities Research Wiktor Bielski.
"Overall I expect similar numbers in the second half in
terms of production, consumption and prices. EU prices will
hopefully pick up in Q4, same thing in China, and U.S. prices
will stay strong."
Global growth has stabilised this year, with debate in the
United States turning to the timing of rate hikes, but the
European Central Bank introducing negative interest rates to
speed up the euro zone recovery.
In China, there is increased optimism the economy has turned
the corner after recent policy stimulus aimed at countering
concerns over a property market slowdown.
Still, steel prices in Asia ST-CRUAS-IDX and Europe
ST-CRUEU-IDX are at around 4-1/2 year lows, partly thanks to
falling raw material costs like iron ore, but also oversupply
built up since the 2008 financial crisis.
However, in the North America, prices ST-CRUNAM-IDX are
near two-year highs, helped by firm U.S. economic growth and a
more measured 0.9 percent rise in steel output in the first
half, the World Steel Association data showed.
June steel output grew at 6.1 percent in the
construction-heavy Middle East, the strongest global growth
rate, while South American output fell 6.5 percent, the weakest
(Reporting by Maytaal Angel, editing by David Evans)