Japan’s production of molybdenum stainless steel has risen for the fifth consecutive month in May 2006, according to data from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The country’s output of stainless steel containing molybdenum, chrome and nickel in May rose by 6.6% year on year to 19,167mt, the data showed. Production has been increasing year on year since January 2006. Japan’s moly stainless output in the period from January to May 2006 was 98,529mt, up 7.75% year on year. Stainless mill sources attributed the growth to firm demand in the automotive, energy infrastructure and heating equipment sectors. Several mill sources, however, said that record high nickel prices were beginning to impact production of moly stainless, which contains about 10% nickel. The size of the stainless steel market would be shrinking as consumers become more cost conscious on the back of high nickel prices, they said.