Indian Steel Consumption Increases at Slowest Pace in Five Years

India’s steel demand increased at the slowest pace in five years as a weak economy and stalled infrastructure projects crimped demand.

The nation’s alloy consumption expanded 0.6 percent to 73.9 million metric tons in the year ended March 31, according to initial data released today by the Steel Ministry’s Joint Plant Committee. Demand grew 0.4 percent in the financial year 2009, in the midst of the global recession.

Asia’s third-largest economy expanded 4.5 percent in fiscal 2013, the slowest pace in a decade, and the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh estimates gross domestic product increased 4.9 percent in the year ended March 31. South Korea’s Posco has waited nine years for land and environmental clearances for a planned $12 billion steel plant that is part of a backlog of 265 projects valued at $230 billion, according to the Cabinet Committee on Investment.

Domestic sales of passenger cars fell 4.7 percent in fiscal 2014, a second consecutive year of decline, as expensive loans discouraged buyers.

Steel output by producers including Tata Steel Ltd., Steel Authority of India Ltd. and JSW Steel Ltd. rose 4 percent to 85 million tons, while exports surged by a similar percentage to 5.6 million tons, according to the committee’s data.

Alloy demand in the first month of the year that began April 1 rose 3.4 percent to 5.84 million tons, while output increased 3.3 percent to 7 million tons.

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