Wed, 20 Aug 07:18:00 GMT
TOKYO, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Japan's crude steel production fell slightly in July from a year earlier, marking four straight months of decline, as an increase in sales tax in April and labour shortages continued to hit demand.
Crude steel output slid by about 2,000 tonnes to 9.295 million tonnes in July from a year earlier, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said on Wednesday.
The drop contrasted with a 0.9 percent increase predicted for the July-September quarter by Japan's trade ministry early last month. [ID:nL4N0PD198]
"Overall demand stayed soft due to the sales tax hike while labour shortages curbed construction demand," said a researcher at the Federation.
"But we see a pickup in some products such as wide strips and small steel bars. We expect crude steel production to turn to a year-on-year increase from August," he said.
Output of wide strips, mainly used for automobiles and electrical appliances, rose 3.8 percent from a year earlier, logging the first increase in 4 months. Production of small steel bars, used for construction, rose 1.9 percent in what was their first climb in 5 months.
Crude steel output, which is not seasonally-adjusted, increased 1.7 percent from June.
(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)
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