Sales by Japanese stockists go higher for second month

Sales of steel by secondary dealers in Japan rose for a second month in July, suggesting that demand is picking up slightly.

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Overall sales rose 0.8% to 2.66 million tonnes, led by a 2.3% increase in sales of hot-rolled sheet and strip to 510,000 tonnes and a 1.8 percent rise in sales of plate to 348.000 tonnes, according to the Japan Iron and Steel Federation (Jisf).

Cold rolled sheet and strip sales rose 0.5% to 242,000 tonnes, while those of galvanised sheet fell by 3% to 401,000 tonnes. Pipe and tube sales also increased, up by 0.7% to 126,000 tonnes.

Sales of longs were mixed, with light bar sales falling by 0.6% to 359,000 tonnes but those of H-beams up by 0.7% to 228,000 tonnes.

The rise in shipments meant that inventories continued to fall back, decreasing by 1.3% from June levels to 2.69 million tonnes.

Hot-rolled sheet and strip inventories dropped by 1.4% to 549,000 tonnes, those of galvanised sheet fell by 2.3% to 446,000 tonnes, and those of plate by 0.4% to 470,000 tonnes.

On the other hand, cold-rolled sheet stockpiles rose by 0.5% to 272,000 tonnes.

H-beams inventories dropped 1.7% to 240,000 tonnes and those of light bars by 2.2% to 139,000 tonnes.

But despite the apparently positive figures, concerns remain about overall domestic stockpile levels, and many have warned that the demand from reconstruction in northern Japan has been over-estimated and may take longer than anticipated to emerge.