Steel Products Prices North America

Flat, Long, and Semi-Finished Imports through September 2014

Written by Peter Wright

Licensed data for September was updated on October 3rd through the Steel Import Monitoring System of the US Commerce Department. The SMU publishes several import reports ranging from this very early look using licensed data to the very detailed analysis of final volumes by district of entry and source nation which is published in our premium product. The early look, the latest of which you are reading now has been based on three month moving averages (3MMA) using September licensed data, and August and July final data. We recognize that the license data is subject to revisions but believe that by combining it with earlier months data in this way gives a reasonably accurate assessment of volume trends by product as early as possible. The main issue with the license data is the month in which the tonnage arrives. We are currently investigating the relationship between licensed tonnage and month of arrival and will publish our summary for the first nine months of 2014 in this newsletter in early November.

Figure 1 shows the 3MMA through September licenses for semi-finished, flat and long products. Flat includes all hot and cold rolled sheet and strip plus all coated sheet products plus both discrete and coiled plate. The import surge is continuing for flat products but has abated somewhat for long products.

Figure 2 shows the trend of sheet and strip products since January 2011. Hot rolled and HDG had a slight respite in three months through August but took off again in the 3rd Q. In the single month of September hot rolled sheet and strip licenses were 384,119 tons. The tonnage of HDG was 314,645 which was the first time to exceed 300,000 tons since we began this analysis in December 2010. Cold rolled peaked in June then declined to 213,000 tons / month on a three month moving average basis in July before taking off again in August and September. The September license volume of cold rolled at 308,174 tons was also the first month to exceed 300,000 tons since we began this analysis in December 2010.

Table 1 provides a detailed import analysis and compares the average monthly tonnage of the three months through September (Q3), with both the same period last year and with Q2 2014. The total tonnage of all hot worked products averaged 2,814,342 tons per month in three months through September, up by 37.9 percent year over year and by 4.1 percent in Q3 compared to Q2. Year over year semi-finished imports were up by 46.0 percent, flat rolled products were up by 64.9 percent, long products fared much better, up by 15.8 percent. Table 1 shows the tonnage and percent change for all the major product groups and for sheet products in detail. The average monthly tonnage of sheet products in three months through September increased by 388,461 tons or 53.0 percent year over year.

Imports of long products were actually down in the 3rd quarter by 14.6 percent compared to Q2.

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