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Total orders came to 9.33 million tonnes, compared with 9.22 million tonnes in October-December 2011.

“The increase [in orders] was primarily due to a 5% year-on-year rise in orders from outside Germany,” WV Stahl said.

Total orders from countries outside Germany rose to 3.79 million tonnes in the final quarter of 2012, up from 3.6 million tonnes in the corresponding period in 2011.

Orders from countries outside the European Union (EU) were up by 9.2% year-on-year to 1.07 million, while those from states within the EU27 increased by 3.5% year-on-year to 2.71 million tonnes.

Orders from within Germany fell by 1.3% year-on-year to 5.55 million tonnes in the fourth quarter, however, compared with 5.62 million tonnes in the same period in 2011.

Total deliveries to the German steel industry fell by a further 1% year-on-year on t weak economic conditions and subdued demand in the distribution sector.

“The stock levels at traders, steel service centres and end-users are likely to have fallen to low levels,” WV Stahl said.

As a result, new year restocking is expected to have brought some improvement in demand in January-March this year.

“Demand is expected to have been stimulated by restocking in the first quarter of 2013,” the association added.

German crude steel output was also up slightly in the final quarter of 2012.