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Paris - Global steel production rose 1.7 percent in July over 12 months, driven mainly by growth in Chinese output, the World Steel Association (WSA) said on Wednesday.

Steel is used in most industrial processes and is an important indicator of economic activity.

The latest data showed that steel production reached 136.8 million tonnes last month.

Production rose by 1.5 percent in China which accounts for half of all steel made worldwide.

Ukraine, which has seen several months of intense fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government troops in its restive eastern region, posted a net loss in production, down 11.7 percent to 2.5 million tonnes.

Most of the steel produced in Ukraine is made in the east of the country which is the focus of unrest by pro-Russia separatists.

Output by Russia rose by 8.1 percent to 6.2 million tonnes.

Production was stable in Japan at 9.3 million tonnes but grew 1.5 percent in South Korea to 68.3 million tonnes and India's output grew 1.7 percent to 7 million tonnes.

Output fell 2.0 percent across the European Union to 13.3 million tonnes, although Germany's production rose 1.5 percent to 3.4 million tonnes and France's also grew 1.6 percent to 1.4 million tonnes.

Italy's annual production fell 3.6 percent to 2.0 million tonnes.

The United States saw an increase in steel production, up 2.3 percent to 7.6 million tonnes.

The WSA said the capacity utilisation rate of its 65 member countries reached 75.4 percent, down 2.9 percent from June and 1.2

percent annually. - Sapa-AFP