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SAIL posts 10.5 per cent rise in sales

Indrani Dutta

KOLKATA, March 7

STEEL Authority of India (SAIL) has increased its sales by 10.5 per cent in the first 11 months of the current fiscal as per statistics available with the Central Marketing Organisation (CMO), which accounts for an overwhelming bulk of the PSU major's sales.

Sources said that the CMO sold 6.9 million tonnes of steel in the domestic market between April 2001 and February 2002, which is considered a record. However, realisations remained low due to depressed market conditions.

During this period, production at the four major plants of SAIL remained at more or less the same level as that of 2000-01, sources said. Exports stood at around 0.7 million tonnes in the first 11 months.

They pointed out that actual sales would be higher as some amount of steel was sold by the plants directly.

The special steel plants at Salem and Durgapur and the Visvesvaraya Iron and Steel Plant also sold directly.

Optimistic about record sales this fiscal, sources said that even in the tough flat product market, the CMO recorded a 12.2 per cent growth, although SAIL's two flat products unit at Bokaro and Rourkela still operated at just around 80 per cent of their capacity.

Low international prices, domestic overcapacity to the tune of around two million tonnes and protective barriers against exports have severely restricted the market, according to industry experts.

Commenting on the sales of long products, sources said that these registered a 9.5 per cent rise and SAIL's two long products unit at Durgapur and Bhilai were operating at their rated capacity.

However, here too, prices have been stagnant as demand has been just about adequate.

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