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Chinese steel production hits record in June

High prices send steelmakers into overdrive despite US pressure

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A worker marks steel bars at a mill in Jiangsu Province, China.   © Reuters

CHONGQING -- China's crude steel output hit the highest-level ever in June as steelmakers responded to a surge in construction steel prices pushed by demand from rising infrastructure spending.

The June figure of 73.23 million tons translates to a 5.7% increase from a year earlier. Monthly production has remained above 70 million tons since March, and cumulative output for the first six months of the year also set a record.

China has capacity to turn out 1.1 billion to 1.2 billion tons of crude steel annually, and in 2016 made 800 million tons. The government has set a goal of scrapping 50 million tons of capacity in 2017 and has already hit the 42.39 million ton mark. It has also ordered that all unauthorized steel mills -- whose combined annual capacity of 120 million tons rivals Japan's total capacity -- be rooted out and cease production.

The U.S. has indicated that excessive Chinese production could be problematic, and steel output is certain to be a subject of discussions at comprehensive economic talks between the two countries that begin on Wednesday.

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