NEW YORK Global crude steel production inched marginally higher last month, kept afloat by gains in Asia.
The 62 countries reporting to the World Steel Association, accounting for 98 percent of global crude steel output, produced 124.8 million tonnes in January, up 0.8 percent from nearly 123.8 million tonnes in the same month last year, according to data released Feb. 20 by the Brussels-based group.
The increase was driven by Asia, where production rose 4 percent to more than 82.3 million tonnes from 79.2 million tonnes.
Chinese production rose 4.6 percent to more than 59.3 million tonnes in Januaryaccounting for 72.1 percent of Asian output and 47.5 percent of global productionfrom 56.7 million tonnes a year earlier, when it accounted for 71.7 percent of Asian output and 45.8 percent of the global tally.
Japan, the second-largest global steel producer, posted a 2.7-percent increase to nearly 8.9 million tonnes in January from 8.6 million tonnes a year earlier.
The only Asian country to register a decline was South Korea, where output fell 0.4 percent to 5.75 million tonnes from 5.78 million tonnes in January last year.
Aside from Asia, the only other region to post an increase was Oceania, where output inched up 0.2 percent to 491,000 tonnes as a 5.8-percent gain in New Zealand offset a 0.8-percent decline in Australia.
North American production dropped 3 percent to 10.14 million tonnes last month from 10.45 million tonnes in January 2012. The decline was spurred by a 5.8-percent drop in U.S. production to 7.26 million tonnes from 7.71 million tonnes, more than offsetting a 5.7-percent increase in Mexico to 1.55 million tonnes and a 1-percent gain in Canada to 1.2 million tonnes.
South American crude steel output fell 3.2 percent to 3.6 million tonnes in January from 3.7 million tonnes a year earlier; European Union production fell 5 percent to 13.5 million tonnes from 14.2 million tonnes despite a 5.4-percent increase in production by regional leader Germany to 3.55 million tonnes; production by other European nations fell 9.6 percent to slightly more than 3 million tonnes; and Commonwealth of Independent States output fell 6.2 percent to 8.9 million tonnes, led by a 5.7-percent drop in Russian production to 5.71 million tonnes.