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China's Feb stainless steel output regains momentum after Lunar New Year

Tokyo — China's stainless steel production has regained momentum in February after Lunar New Year holidays trimmed output in January, Yujing Liu, analyst at Chinese consultancy Antaike, said Tuesday.

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China's stainless steel production was expected to rebound to 2.2 million mt in February from 2.1 million mt in January due to strong stainless steel prices, Liu said. December production was 2.2 million mt, Liu added.

January output dipped due to plants closing for Lunar New Year holidays.

Chinese stainless steelmakers Baowu Steel and Taiyuan Iron & Steel this week rolled over March ferrochrome purchase prices from February at Yuan 9,500/mt ($1.05/lb) and Yuan 9,300/mt, respectively.

Monthly Chinese mill purchase prices had been falling since December. February-March prices are down 12% from Yuan 10,400-10,800/mt in December.

Ferrochrome suppliers agreed positive momentum has returned and said March stainless steel output in China may exceed that of February.

Most Chinese major mills were producing at near full capacity in February and raw material orders for March-April deliveries started to pick up from last week, sources said.

"Chinese stainless steel customers were calling for supplies much earlier than we expected; they said February production was higher than they initially expected," said one ferrochrome supplier source.

Official production data from the China Special Steel Enterprise Association or CSSC shows China produced 24.9 million mt of stainless steel in 2016, up 15.7% year on year.

Output totaled 5.2 million mt in the first quarter, 6.5 million mt in Q2, 6.3 million mt in Q3 and 6.8 million mt in Q4.

The organization does not break down production data by month.

--Mayumi Watanabe,

--Edited by Wendy Wells,