Steel firms hit record sales, meet production targets

Domestic steel producers are optimistic about a demand pick-up from mid-April after record sales. State-owned Steel Authority of India (SAIL) posted its best sales performance in 2016-17 with a growth of eight per cent. The company sold 13.143 million tonnes of steel in 2016-17 and March sales of 1.575 million tonnes were 21 per cent higher than in the same month a year ago. SAIL posted 12 per cent growth in production in 2016-17 and its exports tripled during the year. The Sajjan Jindal-led JSW Steel met its target for 2016-17 with a crude steel output of 15.80 million tonnes, up 26 per cent from a year ago. The company's flat steel production was up 23 per cent, year on year, to 11.41 million tonnes and long products grew 18 per cent to 3.21 million tonnes. Flat steel is used in automobiles and long steel in construction and infrastructure. The steel industry is seeing a demand pick-up in construction, automobiles and white goods, sectors that were hit by demonetisation. Over the last few months producers had to export steel to maintain capacity utilisation, which has climbed to an average 85 per cent from 75 per cent earlier in the year. Steel exports jumped 78 per cent, year on year, in April-February to 6.62 million tonnes and imports declined 40 per cent to 6.59 million tonnes. Steel production for sale increased 11 per cent to 92 million tonnes and consumption was 76.22 million tonnes, up 3.4 per cent from 2015-16. India was as a net exporter of finished steel in April-February. Jindal Steel & Power, Essar Steel, Bhushan Steel and Tata Steel are among the country’s top producers.