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UPDATE 1-Japan steel industry sees higher crude steel output in 2018/19

Kitco News

* Japan's FY18/19 steel output seen possibly above 10.6 mln T

* FY17/18 steel output little changed from 10.517 mln T yr ago

* Solid auto, construction demand to provide support to output

(Adds details, quote)

By Osamu Tsukimori

TOKYO, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Japan's crude steel output in the business year starting April 2018 is expected to rise slightly from the current year due to firm demand at home and abroad, an industry body said on Monday.

Crude steel output in the current business year ending March is likely to be little changed from 10.517 million tonnes the year before, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said in a statement.

Global steel demand is likely to rise slightly next year, and so are Japan's steel exports in the year from April, the group said, while Japan's steel imports are likely to be little changed in the next business year.

Demand from the construction sector is on the rise, while the automobile sector is getting support from the introduction of new cars in domestic markets as well as strong overseas demand, the group said.

"I hope that crude steel output (for next business year) would exceed 10.6 million tonnes," Kosei Shindo, the chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, told a news conference.

Shindo, who is also the president of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp , said that despite support from Tokyo Olympics-related projects, crude steel output this business year has been hurt by a slew of typhoons in the autumn and production problems at some of the plants.

(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Sunil Nair and Subhranshu Sahu)

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