Special steel orders booked in Japan during February dropped 9.8% year on year to 1.52 million mt, latest data from the Japan Iron & Steel Federation showed.
The February total was also down 2.5% from January. JISF officials in charge of the order data were not available for comment Monday, but a Tokyo-based trader said orders booked had dropped as special steel producers had prioritized supplying to domestic customers, limiting supply for exports.
“Special steel producers kept a high level of production. Overall orders have decreased, but they seem to have no availabilities to accept more orders for now, export orders will have to be limited for a while,” he said.
Within the total orders, bookings for domestic supply rose 4.7% year on year and 4.2% from January to 1.08 million mt, while those for exports slid 32.3% on the year and 15.8% from January to 446,464 mt, according to the data released last week.
End-users, including auto-related customers, have maintained high production levels and special steel demand from these sectors are expected to stay firm, which will keep special steel producers running close to full capacity, the trader said.
Japan produced a total of 2.25 million mt of special steel in March, up 2% year on year and 9.7% from February. Its total production over April 2017 to March 2018 edged up by 4.2% on the year to 25.38 million mt, according to the JISF data.