Baoshan Iron & Steel Co (600019.SS: Quote), the listed unit of China's largest steelmaker, said on Wednesday it expected the domestic steel market to remain under relatively heavy pressure with no fundamental turnaround in demand from key steel-using sectors.

The company's downstream orders have recently improved compared with the last quarter, but they have still fallen markedly from a year earlier, the company said in an e-mailed response to Reuters queries.

It added that a three-month delay in the restart of its No. 1 blast furnace, which had been shut until mid-November for maintenance and resumed output in February, reduced its pig iron production by about 1 million tonnes.

China's steelmakers have been struggling with a sharp drop-off in demand as economic growth cools, and many cut production late last year in response to falling domestic prices. (Reporting by Alfred Cang; Editing by Edmund Klamann)

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