China steel consumption likely to fall six percent this year

14 May 2015

China's steel consumption will likely fall 6 percent this year, an industry official from the country said on Thursday, underlining how a slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy will continue to hurt industrial demand.

Chinese crude steel consumption dropped 3.4 percent last year, shrinking for the first time since 1981, and fell again in the first quarter, spurring producers to sell more steel overseas.

"This year it will continue to be negative growth, minus 6 percent," Wang Liqun, vice chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association, told an industry conference.

ANZ had said last week that it expected Chinese steel consumption to fall 4 percent this year and 2 percent in 2016.

The country's steel sector has been saddled by oversupply for years, with excess capacity now estimated at around 300 million tonnes, triple the annual output of Japan, the world's No. 2 steel producer after China.

Liqun said the oversupply in both steel and iron ore will drive prices lower and cut profits for both steelmakers and miners.

"There is no winner at all, the profit margin has dropped significantly," he said.

Amid shrinking domestic demand, China's crude steel output fell 1.3 percent to 270 million tonnes in January to April, government data showed on Wednesday.