LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Global crude steel output rose 5.3 percent last year, industry data showed on Wednesday, as the global economy powered ahead, with growth in top steel producer China steadying despite government efforts to tackle debt and pollution.
Global crude steel output in the 66 countries reporting to the World Steel Association (worldsteel) hit 1.691 billion tonnes in 2017 versus 1.606 billion in 2016, worldsteel said in a statement. Output in China reached 831.7 million tonnes, up 5.7 percent versus 2016.
In the months ahead however, output in China is expected to fall as Beijing has ordered steel mills to cut production from mid-November to mid-March to help clear the country's skies.
According to Reuters calculations based on official Chinese data, average daily steel output declined 1.9 percent to 2.16 million tonnes in December from 2.205 million tonnes in November.
Capacity utilisation rates at mills around the world hit 69.5 percent in December, according to worldsteel, up 1.8 percentage points from 2016, thanks largely to steelmaking capacity cuts in China.
Beijing has cut 115 million tonnes of legal capacity and 120 million tonnes of illegal capacity since the start of 2016, helping drive up steel prices in China and the world.
The steel industry, worth about $900 billion a year, is a gauge of the world's economic health.
(Reporting by Maytaal Angel, editing by David Evans)