China’s steel purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, fell 10.5 basis points from January to 36.6 in February, according to the latest statement from index compiler CFLP Steel Logistics Professional Committee.
Impacted by the coronavirus, downstream demand weakened, pushing up finished steel inventories.
The sub-index for steel production in February was 15.4 basis points lower from January at 31.3. Due to the virus, raw materials transportation was impacted, prompting some mills to bring forward maintenance plans. Though these plans have been thwarted by a lack of workers and equipment.
The sub-index for raw materials inventories dropped to 29.2, illustrating the rapid drawdown of stocks when procurement became difficult.
The sub-index for February’s raw materials purchase prices fell 5.4 from January to 41.7. Appetite for purchasing raw materials has been dented by low steel operating rates and restricted transportation.
Meanwhile, the sub-index for new orders at steel mills in February was 32.7, down 11.1 basis points from the month before. Shrinking end-user demand and postponed construction activity lead to lower new orders.
The sub-index for steel inventories went up 12.2 basis points from January to 57.5 in February.
Looking ahead into March, steel demand is likely to start recovering, but accumulated steel stocks will pressure steel prices.