Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 09/04/2012 -- BMI's latest Germany Metals Report predicts that the German steel market is losing momentum and that steel-makers are likely to review their operations in the country over coming months, with the likelihood of temporary blast furnace closures and reduced output.
In January-August 2011 Germany's crude steel production reached 30.5mn tonnes (mnt), an increase of 2.8% year-on-year (y-o-y), according to Wirtschaftsvereinigung Stahl (WV Stahl), the German steel federation. In H111 WV Stahl says the German steel industry was operating at over 90% capacity, with utilisation rates reaching 94% in June. In the first five months of 2011, flat steel output was up 6.1% y-oy to 11.3mnt and long steel was up 3.8% to 5.5mnt. Overall, hot rolled production was up 5.3% y-o-y to 16.78mnt. As a result, BMI has revised down its estimates for crude steel output for 2011 from 46mnt to 44.2mnt, representing growth of 0.5%. For 2012 production is forecast at 44.8mnt, up 1.5%.
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One of the fastest growing steel-consuming segments has been the manufacture of machinery goods and tools. In Q211 order bookings in the German machine tool industry rose 83% y-o-y, according to the VDW. Domestic demand in Germany increased 72%, while export orders rose 88% y-o-y. For H111 as a whole demand increased 103% y-o-y, with domestic orders up 96% and exports up 107%. The domestic automotive industry and the Chinese market were the key growth drivers over the first six months of the year. Flats production was supported by a 6% y-o-y rise in German passenger car output to 3.4mn units, assisted by 6% growth in car exports to 2.6mn units and a 10% rise in new registrations to 1.8mn units. In contrast, growth in construction steel remained lacklustre with the total price-adjusted value of orders in the construction industry increasing by 4.2% y-o-y in H111 with order growth tailing off by the end of the period. As such, rebar output will grow by just 2.3% to 2.5mnt.
The cooling of export markets as well as a slowdown in the domestic economy will mark a decline in H211 steel production. ArcelorMittal announced in September that it was planning to temporarily shut down its blast furnace at Eisenhuttenstadt due to the slowdown in demand. The company says it is aiming to closely follow market trends following the completion of restocking activities and expects a seasonal downturn in Q411.
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