* Crude steel output at its highest in four months
* July production at 9.26 million tonnes
* Output buoyed by construction, auto demand
TOKYO, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Japan’s crude steel output rose in July to its highest in four months, as Nippon Steel Corp and other producers scrambled to meet demand from construction companies and automakers rebounding from last year’s earthquake and tsunami.
Crude steel output in July rose 1.2 percent from a year earlier to 9.26 million tonnes, the highest since March when more than 9.3 million tonnes was produced, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation on Tuesday.
Japan’s worst earthquake on record sparked a tsunami that set off the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011, wreaking havoc on the world’s third-largest economy. About 19,000 people were left dead or missing from the quake and tsunami.
Japan’s trade ministry estimates crude steel output in the July-September quarter will rise 0.6 percent to 27.1 million tonnes, supported by construction demand.
For July, production from electric furnaces, which produce construction steel, rose 4.1 percent to 2.03 million tonnes, according to the industry federation’s figures.
Overall output, which is not seasonally adjusted, increased 0.70 percent from June.
Steelmakers are also benefiting from strong auto sales this year as domestic car production surges from the lows last year after the disaster, buoyed by government subsidies for environmentally friendly cars.
New car sales in Japan rose 37.5 percent in July from a year earlier to 513,125 units, according to industry figures. . They were up 36.6 percent in the first seven months of 2012, compared with a year earlier. (Reporting by Aaron Sheldrick;Editing by Clarence Fernandez)