TOKYO Japanese crude steel output is expected to bounce back only slightly in the first three months of 2013 after falling to its lowest level in six quarters in the final three months of 2012.
Crude steel output will edge up to 26.06 million tonnes in the first quarter, 0.2 percent above fourth-quarter production, according to estimates by Japans Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Meti) but down 1.9 percent from the same period a year earlier.
Behind weaker output by the countrys steelmakers are expectations of a decline in domestic demand to 14.9 million tonnes, down 0.9 percent from the fourth quarter and 9 percent from the first three months of 2012.
Carbon steel consumption in Japan is expected to total 12.23 million tonnes in the first quarter, down 1.1 percent from the fourth quarter and 4.3 percent from a year earlier.
But despite the expected domestic slowdown, Meti said that steel exports are likely to continue rising as global demand improves and the Japanese currency weakens.
The ministry expects exports to total 8.45 million tonnes in the first quarter, up 4.1 percent from the fourth quarter and 5.5 percent from a year earlier.
A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.