Steel Products Prices North America

Apparent Steel Supply Dips Below 9 Million Tons in December

Written by Brett Linton

December apparent steel supply was calculated at 8,971,570 net tons, according to data released late last week. Apparent steel supply is determined by adding domestic steel shipments and finished U.S. steel imports, then subtracting total U.S. steel exports.

December apparent steel supply saw a 469,929 ton or 5.5 percent increase compared to the same month one year ago. This change was primarily due to an increase in domestic shipments of 475,846 tons or 6.5 percent, followed by a decrease in total exports of 232,878 tons or 31.0 percent. A decrease in finished imports of 238,796 tons or 12.4 percent lessened the overall year-over-year increase in apparent steel supply.

The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was a surplus of 1,374,469 tons imported in December, down 391,146 tons or 22.2 percent from the prior month, and down 323,840 tons or 19.1 percent from one year ago. Foreign steel imports accounted for 18.8 percent of apparent steel supply in December, down from 21.1 percent in November, and down from 22.6 percent one year ago.

Compared to the prior month when apparent steel supply was 9,140,649 tons, December supply fell by 169,078 tons or 1.8 percent. This was due to a decrease in finished imports of 237,798 tons or 12.4 percent and a decrease in domestic shipments of 27,999 tons or 0.4 percent, somewhat negated by a decrease in total exports of 96,719 tons or 15.7 percent.

The figure below shows year-to-date totals for each statistic over the last five years. The 2018 data was previously steady to higher compared to the prior two years, but has been mixed since the summer months.

To see an interactive graphic of our Apparent Steel Supply history (example below), visit the Apparent Steel Supply page in the Analysis section of the SMU website. If you need any assistance logging in or navigating the website, contact us at or 800-432-3475.

Brett Linton

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