RPT-As Beijing aims for blue skies over G20, China's steel mills get unexpected boost
(Repeats item issued Monday)
SHANGHAI Aug 29 (Reuters) - When Beijing ordered hundreds of industrial plants to close ahead of China's first-ever G20 summit next week, the government wanted to spruce up the host city of Hangzhou and ensure world leaders would gather under clear blue skies.
In doing so, China's leaders may have given the nation's stricken steel mills an inadvertent leg-up, helping to restore profitability after a years-long downturn caused by weak prices as a global glut swelled and demand slowed.
Steel prices have jumped as much as 42 percent since late May, with the unexpected turn in fortunes all the more striking as the health of the global steel industry is set to feature on the G20 agenda amid escalating tensions over Chinese exports.
Some Chinese steel plants are turning in the best margins in at least three years following increased demand, efforts to tackle a supply glut and an evironmental crackdown, with temporary production curbs for events like the G20 accelerating the boost to profits and prices.
"Many small mills in neighbouring cities of Hangzhou have been ordered to suspend production for the world summit," said Wu Wei, an analyst with Yong'an Futures in Hangzhou.
A survey of 32 construction-steel mills in the region by industry consultancy Mysteel found almost half have either halted or curbed output since July, cutting steel output by nearly 1 million tonnes as part of the G20 and environmental curbs.
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