Inventories at German distributors fell to a 33-year low in December 2020, while sales volumes continued to rise, according to data from the German Steel Distributors Association (BDS). Will the steel shortage continue in 2021?
German flat steel and long steel inventories fell significantly
Flat steel inventories fell 2.6% year-on-year to 1.15 million mt, while long steel inventories fell 9.8% to 715,054 mt in December.
Flat steel inventories averaged 1.21 million mt in Q4, compared with 1.26 million mt in Q4 2019, while long steel inventories averaged 745,328 mt in Q4, compared with 811,713 mt a year earlier.
For the full year 2020, flat steel inventories averaged 1.25 million mt, compared with 1.42 million mt a year earlier. Long steel inventories averaged 792,707 mt in 2020, down from 859,946 mt in 2019.
Steel shortage: European steel mills unable to meet demand
Market sources reported that inventories remained low at the end of last year as production at European mills failed to keep pace with demand and purchasers struggled to find material.
Sales figures for long and flat steel in Germany up
Sales of long steel in December were up 8.6% year-on-year to 184,775 mt, while flat steel sales rose 20.9% to 376,234 mt.
Monthly average sales of long steel in Q4 were 258,408 mt, up from 249,360 mt in Q4 2019, while flat steel sales rose from 450,246 mt in Q4 2019 to 516,788 mt in Q4 2020, indicating a buoyant market in the final quarter of the year. Although sales were down slightly from November, sources said the market was unusually active in December.
Monthly sales in 2020 increased slightly for long steel, averaging 279,590 mt, while flat steel sales declined from 518,576 mt in 2019 to 496,171 mt in 2020, with Q2 2020 being a particularly sluggish quarter as the industry saw lower activity due to lockdowns during the first wave of the pandemic.
Source: BDS AG
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