BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) -- Growth of China's crude steel output slowed in the first five months, as demand dropped amid a cooling domestic economy, according to data from the country's top economic planner.
Crude steel output increased by 2.2 percent year-on-year to 296.26 million tonnes during the January-May period, down from 8.5-percent growth recorded during the same period last year, data with the National Development and Research Commission showed.
In May, crude steel output rose 2.5 percent from a year earlier, 5.3 percentage points lower than last year.
Aside from output, the sector's profits also slipped sharply. Steel producers saw profits down 49.5 percent from a year earlier to 39.5 billion yuan (6.27 billion U.S. dollars) in the first four months.
In breakdown, profits of ferrous metals mining and dressing companies dropped 7.9 percent, while steel smelting and processing companies saw profits down 68.8 percent.
Steel price also fell in May, as the country's average steel composite price index retreated 17.28 points from last year to 118.76. The figure was also 2.76 points lower than the previous month.
China's manufacturing sector has been hard hit, after the country introduced measures to cool its property market, a major steel user, and exports slumped amid a lingering eurozone crisis.