German crude steel output increases 21.9% in March

German crude steel production increased 21.9% month-on-month to 3.8 million mt in March, the highest level seen in almost four years, German steel federation WV Stahl said April 21.

The significant monthly change stems from intermittent production disruption due to bad weather in February that hampered raw material delivery to mills. The year-on-year change stood at 14.8% as pandemic-related shutdowns started to bite a year ago.

Crude steel produced via the blast furnace route grew 13.7% on year to 2.6 million mt, whereas production via electric arc furnaces increased 17.2% on year to 1.2 million mt.

During the first quarter of 2021, crude steel production increased by 3.2% on year to 10.2 million mt.

Pig iron production grew 10.7% on year in March to 2.3 million mt, while hot-rolled output increased 11.9% to 3.4 million mt. January to March 2021 combined showed an increase of 3.3% at 6.5 million mt for pig iron and 9.2 million for hot-rolled steel products, up 5.3% on year.

The flat steel market particularly suffers from material shortages as ramp-ups particularly from blast furnaces take months following shutdowns and reduced capacity utilization.

Sources told S&P Global Platts that the increase in steel output in March has not been felt in the spot market with sources saying those volumes have been either quickly absorbed or have not filtered through to the market yet.

Latest data from German steel stockholder association BDS showed that flat steel stocks have reached their lowest point since records began, with March figures amounting to 1.05 million mt at German stockholders.

Material shortages also pushed prices further up for hot-rolled coil to Eur960/mt EXW Ruhr, according to the daily Platts assessment for HRC Northern Europe, up Eur5/mt day on day April 21. The HRC price saw a Eur564/mt increase since June last year to the highest price ever recorded, while European steelmaker ArcelorMittal hiked offers for HRC the sixth time since the beginning of March to Eur1000/mt across Europe.

— Laura Varriale