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China produces record crude steel in July on strong demand

Employee works on a production line manufacturing steel structures at a factory in Huzhou
Employee works on a production line manufacturing steel structures at a factory in Huzhou

BEIJING (Reuters) - China produced a record amount of crude steel in July as the government boosted infrastructure spending, while the manufacturing sector rebounded as the world's second-largest economy reopened after lockdown restrictions.

The world's largest steel producer churned out 93.36 million tonnes of crude steel last month, 1.9% higher than the output seen in June and up 9.1% from July 2019, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Average daily output of the metal stood at 3.01 million tonnes in July compared with 3.05 million tonnes in June, according to Reuters calculations based on the official data.

The consumption of steel in July was underpinned by demand for flat steel products used in products from cars and appliances, even as heavy rain hurt demand for steel products used in construction activities.

Production of hot-rolled coils and cold-rolled coils at major mills jumped nearly 28% in July from a month earlier, according to data compiled by Mysteel consultancy, while output for steel reinforcing bars used in buildings rose 18%.

"As the monsoon season has come to an end, demand for construction rebar has stabilised since late-July and (is) expected to further recover in coming months," Zhuo Guiqiu, analyst with Jinrui Capital said before the data was released.

Blast furnace capacity utilisation rates among China's 247 steel mills rose for the fourth consecutive week to 95.16% as of Aug.14, weekly data compiled by Mysteel showed.

For the first seven months of the year, China produced 593.17 million tonnes of crude steel, rising 2.8% from the same period in 2019, the NBS data showed.


(Reporting by Min Zhang, Muyu Xu and Tom Daly; Editing by Shri Navaratnam; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)