TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's crude steel production in January increased 36.8 percent from a year earlier to 8.72 million tons, rising year on year for the third consecutive month, an industry body said Thursday.
Robust exports to the rest of Asia, including China, allowed steel output to stage a sharp recovery from a very low level a year earlier amid a deep global recession and exceed 8 million tons for the sixth straight month, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said.
Specialty steel products, including those for fast-recovering auto production, expanded 48.9 percent from a year earlier to 1.78 million tons.
Compared with the previous month, however, crude steel output in January fell 2.5 percent, the first month-to-month drop in four months, as JFE Steel Corp. cut production due to a fire at its steel plant in Chiba late last year.
"Basically, Japan's crude steel output has been recovering moderately on brisk exports," a federation official said.