TOKYO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Tokyo Steel Manufacturing Co Ltd , Japan's top electric-arc furnace steelmaker, will keep product prices unchanged for March delivery to make sure the steel market can digest the recent price hikes by the company.
Tokyo Steel, which makes beams and bars used in the construction industry, last month raised product prices for a third consecutive month amid firmer international prices and healthy local demand.
"We have decided to maintain prices for March so that local market prices would come in line with our revised prices," Tokyo Steel's managing director Kiyoshi Imamura told a news conference on Monday.
"Export demand is improving as China reduces its exports while domestic demand for construction remains solid and is expected to pick up further this summer when more projects for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are slated to start," he added.
China's steel exports fell in 2016 from a record the previous year, dragged down by improved demand at home and Beijing's resolve to tackle overcapacity, in a relief for steelmakers elsewhere that compete with cheaper Chinese shipments. China's steel exports in January also fell 23.8 percent from a year earlier.
Tokyo Steel's pricing strategy is closely watched by Asian rivals such as South Korea's Posco and Hyundai Steel Co, as well as China's Baoshan Iron & Steel Co (Baosteel).
Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Christian Schmollinger