Sales by Germany’s steel stockholding distributors were -4.3% lower than the year before, totalling 10.7 million tonnes in 2019, according to their association, BDS.
The year had begun modestly, with sales of between 900,000-954,000t in each of the first five months, BDS notes. An unusually weak June (858,000t) was followed by a surprisingly strong July close to the 1 million mark with 999,000t.
As from August, inventories were gradually brought down until December, when deliveries were carried out only in the month’s first two weeks before closures. At the end of the year, inventories stood at 2.03 million tonnes, their lowest since 1996. Kallanish heard earlier this year from industry sources that distribution inventories had reached an unprecedented low at the beginning of 2020. This then led to strong replenishment in January, with prices increasing especially for coil products.
Prior to that, sales were particularly weak and prices deteriorated in the course of 2019, for both flat products and for merchant bar. The only product group that saw an increase of sales was rebar, BDS says.