German steel inventories fall to 33-year low in Dec: BDS

Stocks at German distributors fell to a 33-year low in December 2020 while sales increased further, according to data published by German stockholder association BDS.

Flat steel stocks were 2.6% lower year on year to 1.15 million mt, while long steel stocks dropped 9.8% to 715,054 mt in December.

Q4 stock levels averaged 1.21 million mt for flat steel, down from 1.26 million mt in Q4 2019, while long steel stocks averaged 745,328 mt in Q4, down from 811,713 mt a year earlier.

For the full year 2020, stock levels for flat steel averaged 1.25 million mt, down from 1.42 million mt in 2020. Long steel stocks averaged 792,707 mt in 2020, down from 859,946 mt in 2019.

Market sources were reporting stock levels remained low during the end of last year as production levels from European mills were struggling to keep up with demand and buyers scrambling for material.

Sales of long steel were up 8.6% year on year in December at 184,775 mt, while sales of flat steel grew by 20.9% to 376,234 mt.

Monthly average sales of long steel in Q4 were 258,408 mt in Q4, up from 249,360 mt in Q4 2019. Flat steel sales were up from 450,246 mt in Q4 2019 to 516,788 mt in Q4 2020 indicating a buoyant market in the last quarter of the year. Although sales were slightly down from November, sources said the market was unusually active in December.

Monthly sales in 2020 sales were up slightly for long steel at an average of 279,590 mt, while flat steel sales were down from 518,576 mt in 2019 to 496,171 mt in 2020 with Q2 2020 being a particularly sluggish quarter as the industry was experiencing reduced activity amid lockdown measures during the first wave of the pandemic.

— Laura Varriale