Germany’s November steel sales drop 9% on year

German steel product sales fell for the third straight month in November, dropping 9% year on year to 887,448 mt, data from German steel stockholders’ association BDS showed Dec. 20.

Steel demand has faltered over the past few months, due to weak auto production and a slowdown in the run up to Christmas.

The monthly sales volume was, however, up 2.6% from October, when it reached a five-month low.

About 59.2% of November sales were of flat products at 524,989 mt, down 11.7% year on year, but up 2.8% month on month.

Sales of long products comprised 32.2% of the volume at 285,676 mt, down 2.1% on the year, but up 6.8% on the month.

Stocks hit four-month low

Stocks of German steel products in November reached the lowest level since July at 2.1 million, up 6.5% year on year, but down 3.5% compared with October, the BDS data showed.

Flat products made up 62.8% of total inventories in November at 1.3 million mt, up 11.4% on the year, but down 1.6% on the month.

Long products stocks were at 730,652 mt in November, or 34.6% of the total inventory, the lowest level since December 2020, down 1.5% year on year and 6.3% month on month.

German steel federation WV Stahl also released its production data Dec. 20 that showed that crude steel output dipped 0.3% year on year in November to 3.4 million mt, and was 7.9% lower than October’s volume.

Although production was relatively stable and inventories high due to the weakness at automakers, market sources were monitoring European mills’ ability to increase production if automotive demand rebounds in 2022. There was little buying urgency in Europe currently, with lead times as short as five-six weeks.

“Most of the downward pressure is from imports – inventories are very high. Most mills are booked for January-February, so no production ramp up is expected,” a Benelux service center source said.

“Stocks at warehouses are more than full, when we look at demand December is slowing down now,” a second Benelux service center source said. “Imports are available, but if I buy from any EU mill I can get material for February latest March.”

— Jacqueline Holman, Amanda Flint