Global steel production hit a record monthly high in March as the industry bounces back from a slowdown in demand in the face easing concerns about the outlook for the global economy, data from a producer’s body showed on Friday. Global crude steel production rose to 132 million tonnes in March, up 1.8 per cent compared to the same month last year, data from the World Steel Association showed. Top producer China’s crude steel output for March was 61.6 million tonnes, up 3.9 per cent from the same month last year, while global production for the first quarter was 1.1 per cent higher than the same period last year, at 377 million tonnes. “It is good news that there is an uptick in output in the steel industry. There is a pickup in demand in various parts of the world and, apart from the European Union, people are feeling a bit better about things,” said Peter Fish, managing director at steel consultancy MEPS. “The numbers are more encouraging and things are improving. We think production will rise by 5.5 per cent on the year.” The global crude steel capacity utilisation rate increased to 81.1 per cent, 1.6 per centage points higher than February 2012. Compared to the same period last year, the utilisation ratio in March 2012 decreased by -1.2 per centage points, the data showed. Steel production in Japan, the world’s second-largest steelmaker, rose 2.3 per cent year-on-year to 9.3 million tonnes. In the United States, steel production in March rose 5.4 per cent year-on-year to 7.8 million tonnes. Steel demand in the world largest economy was relatively strong in the last few months and this has supported steel prices and production levels.