Global steel output falls 6% in March as crisis shuts furnacesGlobal steel output falls 6% in March as crisis shuts furnaces
A worker makes a phone call in front of coils of steel wire at a steel wholesale market in Shenyang

By Eric Onstad

LONDON (Reuters) – Global crude steel production fell 6% to 147.1 million tonnes in March from a year earlier, World Steel Association data showed on Wednesday, as the coronavirus crisis forced the closure of furnaces.

Crude steel output from China, the world’s top producer and consumer of the metal, however, has seen only modest production erosion from the coronavirus pandemic, with output down 1.7% in March to 79 million tonnes.

But other regions such as Europe and Japan have been hit hard due to slumping demand from automakers and construction projects.

Steel production in the European Union tumbled 20.4% to 12 million tonnes in March, while North American output dropped 9.4% to 9.7 million tonnes.

In Asia, Japanese output shed 9.7% in March to 8.2 million tonnes while India reported a slide of 13.9% to 8.7 million.

The steel association, whose members represent about 85% of global steel production, cautioned that the figures were preliminary.

“Due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, many of this month’s figures are estimates from national and regional associations, which may be revised with next month’s production update,” it said in a statement.

(Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Jane Merriman and Alexander Smith)