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Japan's Jul crude steel output drop was unexpected: JISF official

Tokyo — Japan Iron & Steel Federation's official Monday said that the decline in the country's July crude steel production was unexpected, given that demand for steel products has been firm.

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"Heavy rain in early July affected and decreased the production by blast furnaces in western Japan, and many of the blast furnaces located in the area," the official who was in-charge of the data said.

Some blast furnaces had to reduce their rate of production because of slower deliveries due to flooded roads, no supply of industry water and less available workers for production, the official said.

"We heard they have returned to normal operations for August, so we expect output in this month and September should be higher," he added.

JISF data released last week showed that Japan's crude steel production fell 2% year on year to 8.42 million mt in July, and by 3.8% from June.

Of the July total, production by converters was 6.36 million mt, down 2.1% from June, and 3.3% year on year, which is the first decline in three consecutive years.

Production by electric furnaces stood at 2.06 million mt in July, down 11.1% month on month, but up 2.5% year on year, marking the 22nd consecutive month of year on year increases.

On a product basis, output of hot rolled coil in July decreased by 12.4% year on year, and by 12.1% on the month to 3.19 million mt. H-beams, on the other hand, increased by 19.2% year on year, and by 2.4% from June to 339,800 mt. Production of small bar rose 0.3% year on year, but fell 5.5% month on month to 706,800 mt.

--Yoko Manabe,

--Edited by Norazlina Juma'at,