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Indian Steel Demand Drops a Second Month; Tata, Rivals Decline

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Indian steel consumption fell for the second consecutive month in December as demand waned from construction and power-generation companies. Shares of Tata Steel Ltd. and rival local producers fell in Mumbai trading.

Sales of the alloy fell 3.2 percent to 4.5 million metric tons from 4.7 million tons a year earlier, according to steel ministry data. Production rose 6.7 percent to 5.2 million tons. Demand in the nine months to December rose 8.8 percent.

Shares of Tata Steel, India’s largest producer, fell as much as 2.9 percent to 663.5 rupees, the steepest decline in two weeks, and traded at 666.40 rupees as of 3 p.m. local time. Steel Authority of India Ltd. dropped 2.9 percent to 179.70 rupees, while JSW Steel Ltd. fell 5.3 percent, the most in a month. The benchmark Sensitive Index of the Bombay Stock Exchange fell 1.8 percent.

“Unexpected rains in the early part of the month limited buying by construction and infrastructure companies,” said Niraj Shah, an analyst at Fortune Equity Brokers Ltd. in Mumbai. “Demand should rebound in the January-to-March period and quarterly consumption may rise to its highest this fiscal year as spending from these companies goes up.”

Steel imports to India last month tumbled 58 percent, while exports rose 1.8 percent, according to the ministry data. Total imports in the current fiscal year have risen 2.3 percent to 5.4 million tons, the ministry data showed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Abhishek Shanker in Mumbai at ashanker1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Hobbs in Sydney at ahobbs4@bloomberg.net.

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