Steel Products Prices North America

November Apparent Steel Supply Slips to Three-Year Low

Written by Brett Linton

Apparent U.S. steel supply slipped to 8.4 million net tons in November, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Institute and U.S. Department of Commerce. November supply is now at a three-year low, the lowest seen since November 2016 when supply was 8.1 million tons. 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.

November apparent supply saw a 748,000 ton decrease (8.2 percent) compared to the same month one year ago. This change was primarily due to a 595,000 ton decrease in finished imports and a 167,000 ton decrease in domestic shipments.

The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was a surplus of 944,000 tons imported in November, down 36.1 percent from the prior month, and down 46.5 percent from one year ago. This is the lowest net trade balance in nearly nine years, going back to December 2011 when it was 863,000 tons. Finished steel imports accounted for 15.8 percent of apparent steel supply in November, down from 17.2 percent in October, and down from 21.1 percent one year ago.

Compared to the prior month when apparent steel supply was 8.7 million tons, November supply declined 310,000 tons or 3.6 percent. The decline was due to a 249,000 ton decline in domestic shipments and a 169,000 ton decrease in finished imports, somewhat negated by a 108,000 ton decrease in exports.

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 slightly down, while total imports, 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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