China's Mar steel exports 9.98 mil mt, up 30% on year, 23% from Feb

China exported 9.98 million mt of steel in March, a 30% rise from the previous year and up 23% from February, data released Wednesday by the General Administration of Customs showed.

This was the highest figure since December.

Even as Chinese steel prices have risen steadily since the end of the Lunar New Year in mid-February, and steelmakers and traders have shunned exports, preferring to sell domestically where prices are higher, exports in March would have been booked earlier, prior to the holidays, Platts notes.

Imports at 1.27 million mt reached the highest since September 2014, after gaining 5% from the previous year and 37% from February, the data showed.

Wang Liqun, vice chairman of the China Iron & Steel Association, said last Friday that March export and production data would be key to watch as indicators of whether the rebound in domestic prices may be sustained.

Given that prices have been on the rise, if production rose and exports haven't, then domestic demand may have indeed improved, he said. But if output fell and exports have gone up, then "we may have a big problem."

Net exports reached 8.71 million mt, 34% higher year on year and 21% higher than February.