COLUMN-China reaching "peak steel" isn't all bad news: Russell
(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.)
By Clyde Russell
LAUNCESTON, Australia Feb 4 (Reuters) - A term gaining currency among China commodity watchers is "peak steel", something that sounds ominous, especially to iron ore and metallurgical coal miners.
The increasing market consensus is that China is at, or close to, reaching the maximum level of steel output and demand.
If this is the case, it means China's steel consumption will peak at levels well below what many in the market had expected only a few short years ago.
China produced a record 822.7 million tonnes of steel in 2014, roughly half of global output, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
However, this was only 0.9 percent higher than the previous year, representing the slowest annual growth rate in 33 years.
Even this modest increase in output was only achieved on the back of a surge in exports of steel products, which jumped 50.5 percent in 2014 to 79.35 million tonnes.
Apparent steel demand in China dropped 3.4 percent to 738 million tonnes, according to the China Iron and Steel Association (CISA). Continuación...