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The percentage growth was lower than the group’s forecast of 2% published in early November last year.

Inda members purchased 4.29 million tonnes of flat steel products last year, up by 5.2% compared with the 4.08 million tonnes in 2011.

In December alone, flat steel sales declined by 3.8% year-on-year, to 312,500 tonnes, of which 172,500 tonnes were hot rolled steel and 56,400 tonnes were cold rolled steel.

On a monthly basis, these sales were down by 18.8%, from 384,800 tonnes.

Distributors’ purchases totalled 323,100 tonnes of flat steel goods in December, against 317,700 tonnes a year earlier.

Compared to November, December’s sales fell by 15.3%.

Inda expects both sales and purchases of flat steel products to increase by 15% month-on-month in January, it said.

For 2013 overall, it believes sales will grow by 6% in an annual comparison.