EU flat steel shipments fall 22.8% on year Jan-May: EUROMETAL

Flat steel product shipments from EU steel service centers fell 22.8% in January-May compared with the same period in 2019, as lockdowns to combat the COVID-19 pandemic took their toll on industrial activity, the European Federation of Steel, Tubes and Metals Distribution & Trade (EUROMETAL) said July 16.

Steel distributors, service centers and traders supply around 80 million mt/year of steel, tubes and metals, accounting for more than 60% of supplies to end-users in EU manufacturing and construction industries, EUROMETAL said.

In May alone, strip mill flat steel product shipments plunged 38.5% year on year, which compared with an even sharper fall of 51.9% for April, the distributors’ group said. Lower shipments led to higher stocks, with flat products inventories at EU steel service centers soaring in May to the equivalent of 102 days in May 2020, compared with 70 days in May 2019.

While EUROMETAL does not specify volumes, the association releases an index for stock levels with the average of 2015 equivalent to 100. On this basis, the EU steel service center index of stock volumes did drop to 103 in May 2020, compared with 118 in the same month last year.

In May 2020, shipments by stockholders and distributors of EU multi-product & proximity steel, including long steel construction products, fell by 32.9% year on year to the equivalent of 97 days in May 2020, compared with 76 in May 2019.

Stock volumes index of EU Multi-Product & Proximity Steel Stockholding Distribution registered at 88 in May 2020, compared with 101 in the year-ago month.

The World Steel Association forecast last month that global steel demand would decline 6.4% overall in 2020 from 2019 levels, although demand in developed economies is expected to drop by a much sharper 17.1%.

Highlighting the weakness of the steel market, ACEA, the association of the European automotive producers, one of the key industrial sectors for steel, said July 16 that in June registrations of new passenger cars in the EU totalled 949,722 units, a drop of 22.3% compared to the same month last year.

— Annalisa Villa