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Aluminum

China March crude steel output leaps on rosy profits, defying environmental curbs

* March steel output at 94.02 mln T vs 78.98 mln T year earlier

* Average daily output at 3.03 mln T

* Jan-March output up 15.6% from same period year earlier

BEIJING, April 16 (Reuters) - China’s crude steel output jumped 19% in March from the same month a year earlier, official data showed on Friday, as steelmakers beefed up production on high profit margins even as environmental restrictions kicked in.

The world’s biggest steel producer churned out 94.02 million tonnes of crude steel last month, the highest since August 2020, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed. That compared with 78.98 million tonnes in March 2020.

Average daily output last month increased to 3 million tonnes from a daily average of 2.97 million tonnes in January-February period, according to Reuters calculations based on the NBS data.

Chinese steel mills are benefiting from a booming manufacturing sector, buoyed by a jump in the output of products with metal-content and robust seasonal construction activities.

At least 10 steelmakers that have announced their preliminary first-quarter results are expecting significant jumps in their net profits.

The high profit margins could encourage mills to increase production though a clean commitment by Beijing had curbed some output and pressed overall blast furnaces utilisation rates.

Long-processing steelmakers in the steel hub Tangshan, which accounts for 13.5% of China’s total output, have been asked to cut their production by 30-50% throughout this year in an effort to reduce emissions.

In the first quarter of 2021, China produced 271.04 million tonnes of crude steel, increased 15.6% from same period last year, the NBS data showed.

Reporting by Min Zhang and Shivani Singh. Editing by Gerry Doyle

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