French steel output falls 40 pct in 6 months

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French steel production fell by more than 40 percent in the first half of 2009 from a year earlier to 5.9 million tonnes.

Paris – French steel production fell by more than 40 percent in the first half of 2009 from a year earlier to 5.9 million tonnes as the downturn sapped demand in key sectors, the industry said on Wednesday.

Steel production fell by 37.9 percent to 1.106 million tonnes last month, dragging down total production in the first half of 2009 by 41.5 percent to 5.855 million tonnes, the French Steel Federation said in a statement.

The economic downturn hit demand in key sectors such as the auto and building industries. The world's biggest steel maker ArcelorMittal has been running its factories at half-capacity for months.

The company said in a statement on Wednesday however that it would restart a furnace at its plant in Florange, northeastern France, next month, plus ones in Ghent, Belgium, and Gijon in Spain in September.

It cited a "technical" recovery in demand as customers began to replenish stocks that they had exhausted during the slowdown in activity. But it warned that demand remained very low.

Global steel demand is to fall by nearly 15 percent this year, according to the latest estimates by the World Steel Association.

AFP / Expatica

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