Sales from Japanese stockists down 6.6% month-on-month in August
Sales among Japan’s second-tier dealers fell by 6.6% month-on-month in August, although figures were still up on the year, reinforcing the view that demand is recovering.
Paragraph entered by Atlantic migration, in order for SteelFirst articles to display correctly on Metal Bulletin.
Overall sales totalled 2.54 million tonnes last month, down from 2.70 million tonnes in July, according to the latest data from the Japan Iron & Steel Federation (JISF). Figures were up 1.7% on the year however, with all products apart from H-beam, recording year-on-year rises.
The monthly slump in sales was due to seasonal factors such as the week-long summer holiday in mid-August, rather than any fundamental slow-down in demand.
Light bar sales fell 4.1% on the month but were up 0.7% on the year at 358,000 tonnes, while H-beam sales stood at 223,000 tonnes, down 3.8% from July and down 1.5% compared with year-earlier levels.
Sales of hot rolled sheet and strip fell by 8.6% from July levels but were up 2.6% on the year at 467,000 tonnes. Cold rolled sheet and strip shipments were down 9.9% on the month but up 4.8% year-on-year at 243,000 tonnes.
Galvanized sheet sales in August reached 396,000 tonnes, down 8.1% from the previous month, but up almost 5% on the year. Plate sales fell 5.7% from July but rose by 2.5% year-on-year to 330,000 tonnes.
Pipe and tube sales fell 3.8% on the month to 124,000 tonnes after JISF upwardly revised July volumes to 129,000 tonnes. Sales were still up 2% year-on-year, however.
Although demand for flat products continues to lag behind demand for long steel, the year-on-year increase in sales indicates that demand for sheet and other products among smaller dealers is finally picking up as the country’s economic recovery becomes more broad-based.
Until now, demand for flats has been largely underpinned by strong demand from a few key sectors such as the automotive industry.
Stockpile levels were largely flat on the month at 2.65 million tonnes as steel producers continued to curb output. H-beam inventories were down by 0.5% from July while those of plates and pipes and tubes dropped by 0.6%, and 1.6% respectively.
HR sheet and CR sheet stockpiles saw respective month-on-month rises of 1.1% and 0.4%, while light beam stockpiles rose by 4.9% over the same period.