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August 12, 2009

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Crude steel output at record

CHINA'S crude steel output rose to a record 50.68 million tons in July as the government's 4 trillion yuan (US$586 billion) stimulus spending boosted metal demand by, among others, the auto-making and construction sectors.

The country's crude steel output climbed 12.6 percent last month from a year ago, the fastest year-on-year growth since 2007, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The rise in steel output was the third consecutive record monthly high. Daily production in July stood at 1.63 million tons, down from 1.65 million tons per day in June.

China has seen a record import volume of iron ore, the steelmaking ingredient. China, the world's biggest iron ore buyer, imported a record 58.1 million tons in July, up 5 percent from June and beat the record high of 57 million tons in April, said the General Administration of Customs.

Umetal Research Institute analyst Hu Yanping attributed the record output to rising demand spurred by the government stimulus package to shore up the slowing economy.

"The output continued to increase because urban fixed-asset investment grew rapidly as property investment accelerated," said Hu. "Industrial manufacturing also showed signs of recovering, driving up steel demand."

China's fixed-asset investment jumped 32.9 percent for the first seven months on an annual basis while the country's industrial output climbed 10.8 percent in July from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics announced yesterday.

Also yesterday, Baoshan Iron & Steel Co, China's largest steel maker, raised both hot-rolled product and cold-rolled steel coil prices by 600 yuan a ton for September delivery based on August's rates, following price increases for August and July, according to Umetal and other industry data providers.

"Steel prices are set to be high in the second half, propelled by rising demand amid improved economic conditions," said Ma Chunxia, an analyst at Zheshang Securities Co.


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