Inventories of flat steel products in Brazil fell to 1.02 million metric tons in March, 14.7% lower than a year earlier, steel distributors association Sindisider said Wednesday.
The inventories fell to the equivalent of 2.7 months' sales, said the association, which is linked to national steel distributors institute Inda. Steel distributors' sales, however, also fell by 0.9% from the year-earlier period, to 379,300 tons, Sindisider said.
Brazilian flat steel inventories soared to the equivalent of more than 4 months of sales in 2010, when imports surged into Brazil, attracted by local market growth, high steel prices in Brazil and the strong real. The price premium in the domestic market has since fallen to about 5% over the price of imported steel as local mills have reduced prices to compete.
After a decline in steel import levels in 2011, imports are now, however, rising again, according to Sindisider's figures. Imports grew to 149,400 tons in March, up 11.3% on March 2011, and have risen 18.4% in the first quarter of the year, Sindisider said.
"The sector already feels the effects of the increase in imports, with a fall in sales" of products produced by Brazilian steel mills, said Sindisider President Carlos Loureiro. "Given this scenario, we expect a fall in April, of about 10%, in both distributors' purchases and sales."
-By Diana Kinch, Dow Jones Newswires, Tel: 55 21 2586 6086, [email protected]