First Half of 2014 For India’s Steel Sector: So Far, So Good?

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A couple of big developments in India’s steel story have refocused a spotlight on the sector as the first half of the year ends.

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India’s steel production grew at nearly half the world’s average in the first six months of 2014, according to the World Steel Association (WSA). As per data released by it, between January and June, India produced 41.28 million tons of steel, up 1.4 percent over 40.72 MT in the same period a year ago.

In comparison, global production was 821.34 MT in the first half of 2014, more than 801.23 MT during the same period last year, clocking a growth of 2.5 percent.

India continued to occupy fourth place in the world in steel production. On the growth-rate front, the countries ahead of it were China and South Korea, with 3 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. In the race for the total amount of steel produced, however, the nations that piped India were China (411.90 MT), Japan (55.22 MT) and the US (43.49 MT). The US’s growth rate, though, was lower than India’s at 0.9 percent. India has been in fourth place since 2010.

Specifically, in the month of June this year, India’s steel production rose by just 0.8 percent to 6.7 MT, compared to a year ago. That was behind the 3.1 percent global growth rate in steel during the month.

Analysts put varying tags on this performance. Some called it fair. Others went so far as to call it good, while some dismissed it as dismal.

As compared to the 1.6 percent rate of growth in May 2014, domestic steel output growth in India was lower by almost half in June, dismal indeed, but some analysts pegged the drop to seasonal factors like the monsoon which hampers construction activity. Globally, crude steel production rose to 137 MT in June 2014, up from 132.9 MT in June 2013. The US produced 7.2 MT of crude steel in June 2014, an increase of 1.9 percent compared to June 2013, according to the WSA.

India’s steel story is being closely monitored globally as well as within the country, more so because of the installation of a new, business-friendly government back in May, and the nation’s goal of making 300 mtpa by 2030 as reported by MetalMiner.

The author, Sohrab Darabshaw, contributes an Indian perspective on industrial metals markets to MetalMiner.

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