Mon, Jul 23, 2012 - Page 15 News List

China competition said to be hurting Japan’s steel firms

OUTGUNNED:Japan’s primary steel companies saw revenue drop more than 50 percent, an effect caused by weak domestic demand and foreign rivals

AFP, TOKYO

Japan’s biggest steelmakers likely suffered a plunge in recurring profit of up to 80 percent in the April to last month period as competition with Chinese rivals drove prices down, a report said yesterday.

Nippon Steel likely recorded less than ¥10 billion (US$127 million) in consolidated recurring profit for the three months, down about 80 percent from a year earlier and nearly half from January to March, the Nikkei Shimbun said.

Japan’s second-ranked JFE is also believed to have suffered a 60 percent plunge in recurring profit in the quarter, the paper said without naming its sources.

The report did not mention the companies’ net profits.

Major Japanese steelmakers suffered as their Chinese rivals ramped up output, driving steel prices sharply lower across Asia and denting the profitability of Japanese exports, the paper said.

Domestic steel demand remains sluggish across the board, except for in the automotive sector, which has been supported by government subsidies to encourage purchases of environmentally friendly vehicles, it added.

Nippon Steel is set to merge with Japan’s third-ranked Sumitomo Metal Industries in October to create a steel giant second only to ArcelorMittal, and just ahead of China’s Baosteel (寶鋼).

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