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Japan expects to be tops in West's steel output

Japan will become the largest steel producer among noncommunist countries this year, overtaking the United States, the Japan Iron and Steel Federation said. Steel output in many countries, including the United States, has slumped because of a recession and problems with out-of-date plants. But Japan will keep production at around 111 million metric tons. The sustained output reflects the country's continued economic growth and the strength of demand fro shipbuilding and car industries. US production will fall below 100 million tons for the first time since 1963, the federation forecast -- a 20 percent drop from last year's output of 124 million tons.

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