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Monday, January 23, 2012

Tokyo Steel keeps Feb prices steady amid import worries

Mon Jan 23, 2012

TOKYO Jan 23 (Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co , Japan's biggest construction steelmaker, said on Monday it would keep prices unchanged in February, seeking to stem an inflow of cheaper imports, but added that the market shows signs of improvement on growing reconstruction demand.

Its pricing strategy is closely watched by Asian rivals like Hyundai Steel, POSCO and Baosteel, which have ramped up capacity, aiming to take advantage of their weaker currencies to boost exports to Japan.

"We hope to raise prices but the current yen rate and a potential rise in imports make it difficult to do so," Kiyoshi Imamura, marketing director at Tokyo Steel, told a news conference.

The company is hoping that China will ease its lending policy after the Lunar New Year break, stimulating steel demand.

In Japan, demand for construction steel has picked up since late last month on rebuilding of Japan's northeast that was devastated by massive earthquake and tsunami last March, Imamura said.

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