German distributors’ steel product sales, stocks fell on year in January: BDS

Steel product sales in the German distribution and stockholding system fell to 836,149 mt in January from 857,602 mt a year earlier, German steel stockholders’ association BDS reported Feb. 23.

The January total was nonetheless markedly higher than sales of 536,626 mt in December, indicating that a destocking cycle in the European steel sector late last year may have started to give way to restocking activity.

January’s sales comprised 229,246 mt long products and 537,595 mt flat products, with both product categories showing a marked increase from December.

Total January sales were also higher than both the 825,630 mt/month averaged in 2022 and 707,808 m averaged in Q4, according to BDS.

Again pointing to market upturn accompanied by client restocking, German stockholders’ stocks fell on a year-on-year basis to 1.969 million mt in January from 2.184 million mt a year earlier, the DBS data showed.

The stocks were also lower than the 2.18 million mt/month averaged in 2022 and 2.054 million averaged in Q4.

However, January’s stocks were still marginally higher than 1.951 million mt in December, with both long products at 745,054 mt and flat products at 1.185 million mt edging higher on a month-on-month basis.

2022 sales fall

German steel product sales by distributors and stockholders plunged 36.4% month on month to 536,626 mt in December and were also down 15.3% year on year, earlier DBS data published Jan. 23 showed.

For full-year 2022, steel product sales totaled 9.91 million mt, down 6.8% from 10.62 million mt in 2021.

Sales of long products, used primarily in construction, totaled 152,506 mt in December, down 40.9% month on month and down 11.1% year on year, while sales of flat products, used in automotive and construction industries, fell 34% month on month and 11.1% year on year to 345,526 mt.

The decline in monthly steel product sales in December coincided with a 4.7% month-on-month reduction in domestic steel inventories to the lowest level since June 2021.

Stocks of all steel products totaled 1.95 million mt in December, down 5.9% year on year, with long product stocks up 3.3% at 742,255 mt and flat product stocks down 10.7% at 1.17 million mt, the lowest level since July 2021.

Stocks fell alongside a slowdown in domestic steel production, which fell 14.6% year on year to 2.6 million mt in December, the lowest since May 2021, Germany’s steel association Wirtschaftsvereinigung or WV Stahl reported Jan. 23.

The country’s steel producers have been forced to curtail steel production in recent months due to high energy prices in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed domestic prices for hot-rolled coil in Northwest Europe stable at Eur795/mt EXW Ruhr Feb. 23, amid reports of strong mill order books.

— Diana Kinch and Euan Sadden