Global stainless steel production in the first three months of this year rose by 6.5 percent to 7.36 million tonnes versus the final quarter of 2007, the International Stainless Steel Forum said on Wednesday.

Asia, by far the biggest maker of stainless steel, increased its output by just 3.6 percent to 4.14 million tonnes while Western Europe/Africa boosted production by 9.8 percent over the last quarter to 2.43 million tonnes, the Brussels-based industry association said in a statement.

Since steel demand is cyclical as opposed to seasonal, year-on-year comparisons for individual months or quarters tend to be less meaningful than month-on-month or quarter-on-quarter comparisons.

Last year, global stainless production during the first quarter amounted to 7.58 million tonnes -- the highest figure the ISSF said it ever recorded for a single three-month period.

Some of the largest quoted stainless steel makers are ArcelorMittal, ThyssenKrupp, Acerinox of Spain and Finnland's Outokumpu. (Reporting by Christiaan Hetzner; Editing by Quentin Bryar)

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