Germany’s March steel output down 10%, but better than worldsteel estimate

Crude steel output in Germany, the largest steel producer in Europe, fell by 10% to 3.29 million mt in March, according to data released Thursday by the country’s WV Stahl steel federation.

The drop, although large, is still far less steep than that estimated by the World Steel Association.

In worldsteel’s global production statement Wednesday, the association gave a preliminary estimate for German crude production in March as a decrease of 21% on the year to 2.9 million mt, with a 9.3% drop to 9.47 million mt in the first quarter.

WV Stahl bases its figures on reports from its members, while the worldsteel numbers are “only” an estimate, the two associations told Platts when reached for comment on the matter.

According to WV, after an already low result in the same period last year, steel production fell by around 5.6% in the first three months of the year to 9.86 million mt.

“The first effects of the corona crisis have already become clearly visible in the steel industry,” WV Stahl said.

Crude steel volumes produced by blast furnaces registered a decrease of 8.8% in March year on year to 2.25 million mt, while electric arc furnace output was down by 13.5% to 1.04 million mt.

Pig iron production decreased by 7.4% year on year to 2.10 million mt in March, while hot-rolled steel product volumes registered a drop of 4.5% to around 3 million mt.

In March, some German steel producers started to suspend or reduce production following lower order levels. Industry sources have also said that April looks gloomy.

On Thursday, IHS Markit showed that the decline in business activity across Germany deepened in April, with both services and manufacturing seeing record decreases in output as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown. The headline Flash Germany Composite PMI Output Index registered 17.1 in April, down sharply from 35.0 in March and by far its lowest reading since comparable data were first compiled more than 22 years ago, Markit data showed.

April’s survey showed sustained downward pressure on prices charged for goods and services, with the rate of decline accelerating to the quickest in more than a decade. There was also a further softening of cost pressures, linked to lower prices for oil and other commodities, as well as a reduction in average wage costs.

— Annalisa Villa