Nippon Steel weighs halting 3rd furnace amid virus crisis -source

TOKYO, April 17 (Reuters) - Nippon Steel Corp is considering halting a blast furnace in Kimitsu, eastern Japan, to cope with slumping demand, a source at a group company said on Friday, following its recent decision to temporarily shut two blast furnaces.

The move by Japan’s biggest steelmaker comes as steel demand in the construction sector is set to fall further following the recent suspensions of projects by local construction companies to curb the spread of the coronavirus among their workers, said the source. The source did not want to identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Nippon Steel said last week that it will temporarily shut two blast furnaces later this month, cutting about a tenth of its capacity, responding to a sharp drop in steel demand.

A Nippon Steel spokeswoman said there were no further decisions on production adjustment. But she added that the company is still making various considerations to adjust output to meet falling demand. (Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)