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China Steel's output set to rise 2.5 percent in 2nd quarter

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China Steel Corp. (中國鋼鐵), Taiwan's largest steelmaker, recently projected that its output for the second quarter will rise about 2.5 percent from the previous quarter on increased orders.

The increase in orders is being driven by China Steel's decision to raise its domestic wholesale prices for April-May contracts, market analysts told local media.

The company said its second-quarter output won't be affected by the closure of its No. 1 furnace on March 1 for annual maintenance or the closure of its No. 2 furnace immediately after the first one reopens.

China Steel said the annual maintenance on its first and second furnaces will be completed by the end of the second quarter, which means that all of its four furnaces will be in operation in the second half of the year to meet rising market demand.

The latest price hike by China Steel followed its average 1.2-percent price increase for March deliveries and similar moves made by some steelmakers in China.

Analysts said China Steel is expected to become more profitable in the second quarter on the back of its price hikes. The steelmaker generated more than 60 percent of its sales from domestic shipments last year.

In late February, China Steel announced an increase of NT$78 per metric ton for domestic wholesale delivery for the April-May period, a 0.37-percent average hike from March delivery, citing a better outlook for global demand.

In January, China Steel posted about NT$1.5 billion in pretax profit, up from NT$1.44 billion in the same period of last year, and also higher than its NT$1.18 billion recorded in December.

China Steel shares went unchanged at the end of yesterday's session and closed at NT$25.7 while the Taiwan Stock Exchange Capitalization Weighted Stock Index ended down 4.93 points, or 0.05 percent, at 8,774.64.

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