Steel Products Prices North America

September Apparent Steel Supply at 21-Month Low

Written by Brett Linton

September apparent steel supply slipped to 8.7 million net tons, the lowest level seen since December 2017, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Institute and U.S. Department of Commerce. Apparent steel supply, a proxy for demand, is determined by adding domestic steel shipments and finished U.S. steel imports, then subtracting total U.S. steel exports.

September apparent steel supply saw a 409,052 ton decrease (4.5 percent) compared to the same month one year ago. This change was primarily due to a 334,582 ton decrease in finished imports, with the remainder due to a decline in domestic shipments and a rise in exports.

The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was a surplus of 1,284,846 tons imported in September, down 6.1 percent from the prior month and down 23.4 percent from one year ago. Finished steel imports accounted for 17.7 percent of apparent steel supply in September, down from 18.7 percent in August, and down from 20.6 percent one year ago.

Compared to the prior month when apparent steel supply was 9.6 million tons, September supply fell by nearly a million tons, down by 932,624 tons. This was due to a 704,778 ton decrease in domestic shipments and a 263,792 ton decline in finished imports, while a small decline in total exports lessened the overall decrease in apparent steel supply.

The figure below shows year-to-date totals for each statistic over the last five years. Apparent steel supply remains on the high side this year compared to previous years, as do domestic shipments. Semifinished imports are relatively in-line in total, while total imports are marginally down. Finished imports and total exports are down significantly.

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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