March German stockholder inventories highest since July 2014

March German stock levels reached their highest level since July 2014, according to latest data from German stockholders’ association, BDS.

Flat steel products volumes at German stockholders and distributors went up by 3.8% year on year to 1.55 million mt in March, while long products increased by 4.82% on year to 878,000 mt — levels last seen in July 2014 when volumes reached 1.56 million mt for flat and 935,021 mt for long products.

A more detailed look at stock level changes from February to March showed that stockholders saw a re-stocking period in March.

Flat product levels rose 6.02% month on month, long products grew 2.61%. The data suggests that stocks moved up following active buying in the beginning of the year, with average lead times of four-to-six weeks for longs and six-to-eight weeks for flats depending on the specific mill. Sources told Platts that buying interest from German stockists had been limited throughout March and April amid the increased stock levels.

At the same time, sales volumes increased 9.76% month on month to 296,229 mt for longs and 3.67%to 582,090 mt for flat products. Sources of flat steel products told Platts, however, that stockists had difficulty passing margins on to customers, as offers from producers remained high.

Sales volumes compared to a year ago saw a 11.51% year-on-year drop to 296,229 mt for long products, while flat products decreased by 6.72% year on year to 582,090 mt.

Laura Varriale, PLATTS