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ECONOMICS > Japan steel firms see profits dive

TOKYO - Reuters

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Chinese competitors are giving Japanese steel producers a hard time. REUTERS photo

Chinese competitors are giving Japanese steel producers a hard time. REUTERS photo

Japan’s biggest steelmakers likely suffered a plunge in recurring profit of up to 80 percent in the April-June quarter as competition with Chinese rivals drove prices down, a report said yesterday.

Nippon Steel likely recorded less than 10 billion yen ($127 million) in consolidated recurring profit for the three months, down about 80 percent from a year earlier and nearly half from January-March, the Nikkei business daily said.

Japan’s second-ranked JFE is also believed to have suffered a 60 percent plunge in recurring profit in the quarter, the paper said without naming its sources.

The report did not mention the companies’ net profits.

Major Japanese steelmakers suffered as their Chinese rivals ramped up output, driving steel prices sharply lower across Asia and denting the profitability of Japanese exports, the paper said.

Domestic steel demand remains sluggish across the board, except for in the automotive sector, which has been supported by government subsidies to encourage purchases of environmentally friendly vehicles, it added.

Nippon Steel is set to merge with Japan’s third-ranked Sumitomo Metal Industries in October to create a steel giant second only to ArcelorMittal, and just ahead of China’s Baosteel.

July/23/2012

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