Global crude steel output in the first four months of the year was down 22.7 percent to 354 million tonnes, figures from the World Steel Association showed on Wednesday.

Global economic downturn forced steelmakers to sharply reduce production, shelve investment plans and lay off jobs, as the demand from steel buyers the automotive and construction industries has evaporated.

Crude steel output fell 23.6 percent year-on-year to 89.5 million tonnes in April.

The April figure showed a 2.9 percent fall from March, but when calculated on a daily basis, it indicated a tiny 0.3 percent rise.

China, the world's top producer, posted a 3.9 percent fall in April and a 0.1 percent rise in the January-April period.

Output from the European Union has dropped by 44.2 percent in the Jan-April period, while in the United States, the fall was 48.5 percent.

Production in the Middle East, where demand was buoyant last year due to booming infrastructure spending, edged up by 0.2 percent in April, but softened by the same amount in the first four months of the year.

The association published its short range outlook in April, where it forecast a 15 percent drop in the world steel demand this year, the steepest fall since the World War Two. [ID:nLR431360]

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Editing by William Hardy)

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