Nucor posted net income of $31M for the first quarter and said it expects even better results in Q2.

Nucor’s Q1 revenue also was up considerably year-on-year to $3.65bn. In Q1 2009 the company lost $190M on sales of $2.65bn.

Its Q1 steel mill utilisation rate rose to about 73% from 45% in the same quarter last year.

Pre-operating and start-up costs of new facilities were $50.5M in the first quarter, related to the SBQ mill in Memphis, Tennessee, and the galvanising line in Decatur, Alabama. By comparison, pre-operating and start-up costs were $33.2M in the first quarter of 2009. Nucor said it expects its improved performance to continue.

“Overall, operating performance improved from the beginning of the quarter to the end of the quarter, and we expect the second quarter to be an improvement over our first quarter results,” the company said.

“The most challenging markets for our products continue to be those associated with residential and nonresidential construction, which continue to show little, strength. This is particularly true for our downstream businesses.”

Steel consumption up in ASEAN region

Preliminary figures compiled by SEAISI revealed that apparent steel consumption in the ASEAN region picked up significantly in the second half of 2009.

The increase was not sufficient to offset the drop in consumption in the first half of the year.

As a result, ASEAN’s apparent steel consumption for the whole of 2009 is estimated to have declined 8% y-o-y to 42.32Mt.

Production was stable at 24.4Mt but import and export volume dropped significantly. Total imports of steel products into the region declined from 30Mt in 2008 to 19.7Mt in 2009. Export dipped by more than half to nearly 4Mt.

Among the six countries in the region, Vietnam is the only country that saw an increase in steel demand. Apparent steel consumption there grew by more than 30% in 2009.

Indonesia encountered the highest negative growth rate of 27%, followed by Singapore and Thailand with a decline of 23% and 20%, respectively. Malaysia and Philippines experienced single digit decline in steel consumption of 9% and 3%, respectively.

Demand for long products seemed to pick up fast at 11.8Mt in the second quarter of 2009, slightly higher than the pre-crisis level in the first quarter of 2008.

Domestic long product producers benefited from the demand growth, with an improvement in domestic production of 45% q-o-q to 9.7Mt in the second quarter of 2009.

Imports and exports increased to the same level as recorded in the first half of 2008, to 3.4Mt and 1.25Mt, respectively.

Total long product consumption in 2009, however, reduced by 4% to 20.1Mt. Production declined slightly to 16.4Mt. Imports dropped moderately to 5.9Mt while exports registered an increase of 9% y-o-y to 2.2Mt.

Total flat steel consumption registered 22.3Mt in 2009, a decrease of 11% y-o-y. Production remained relatively stable at 8Mt. However, imports and exports showed a significant deceleration of 27% and 54% to 17.5Mt and 3.3Mt, respectively.