German stocks and sales fall again in December

German stocks and sales of flat steel dropped further in December, according to data provided by stockholding association BDS.

Seasonal destocking in December is widely common in Germany, so the month-on-month drop is not surprising; however, the volumes decreased from the lowest level in two years seen in November to an even lower level in December. Sales saw the biggest drop by 36.6% to 365,842 mt on month, a level last recorded in December 2014 when sales reached 347,504 mt.

The sales year-on-year drop stood at 10.52%. Stock levels at German distributors and stockists had been dropping since July 2017 and reached a two-year low last month at 1.27 million mt, seeing a 2% decrease on month 7.14% slip on year.

Looking at the entire year, flat steel stocks were slightly up by 0.8% year-on-year to 17.1 million mt, while sales went up by 1.2% y-o-y to 6.5 million mt with Q4 being showing the lowest levels for stocks and sales.

As S&P Global Platts reported, stock levels in general had been rising at distributors across Europe, while sources said German stokholders have access to stocks in European ports. “I’m not entirely convinced that the [BDS] figures draw the truest picture as a lot of stockholders do maintain access to warehouses in the Benelux,” said a German trader.

Long product stocks remained stable on-year in December at 796,323 mt, seeing a 1.8% monthly drop. Sales were however down 11.8% compared to December 2016 at 179,511 mt, seeing a 1.5% drop compared to the previous month November.

Laura Varriale, SBB Daily Briefing, S&P Global Platts