Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:10am GMT
* March marks fourth-consecutive monthly price rise
* Nippon aims for total Y20,000 rise by April - source (Adds details, Feb-end stock level)
TOKYO, March 10 (Reuters) - Nippon Steel Corp has raised its March price for H-beam steel used in construction by around 6 percent from February, a source said, even though sluggish sales pushed inventories higher during the month.
Nippon Steel, the world's No.4 steelmaker and a major producer of H-beams in Japan, has told distributors it is raising prices by around 5,000 yen($60)per tonne, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The company, which has already raised the price of H-beams by roughly 15,000 yen in the past three months, aims to up that to a total of 20,000 yen by the end of March to pass on soaring input costs, the source said.
Nippon Steel said on Thursday domestic demand for construction steel remained weak, but that there were signs of a pick up in office building and small infrastructure projects.
The company's domestic inventories of H-beam steel rose 8.9 percent to 174,600 tonnes at the end of February from the month before, it said.
"Shipments were slow in February due in part to the market's seasonal weakness, but with demand from small office and other building projects increasing, we plan to implement another price hike as soon as possible," said a company official, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to talk about the issue publicly.
Rival Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co said last month it would raise prices of all its products in March to cover rising input costs. ($1 = 82.755 Japanese Yen) (Reporting by Yuko Inoue; Editing by Joseph Radford,sourced:Thomson Reuters)