Final February steel import license data was released this week, ending the month at 1.5 million net tons of total steel imports, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. This is the lowest monthly import level seen since December 2009 when final imports were at 1.4 million tons. OCTG imports have not been this low since September 2016, and cold rolled imports have not been this low since July 2013.
As SMU reported in last week’s preliminary data, finished steel imports in February remained at 1.4 million tons, down over January’s 1.6 million ton level and below the 2019 finished import average of 1.7 million tons. The final February license data shows 150,000 tons of semi-finished product imports (mostly slabs).
March licenses collected through last week rose to 2.3 million tons, with 1.6 million tons being finished products and 700,000 tons being semi-finished; we expect most of those semi-finished imports to roll over into April as the quarterly quota resets.
Note: The total January import figure is unusually high as a result of buyers seeking to max out quarterly quota limits on semi-finished products. For the remainder of the first quarter, final semi-finished imports should be significantly lower. January semi-finished imports were 1.5 million tons, the highest level seen in SMU’s 10-year history. Due to these month-to-month swings, SMU has ceased monthly import “trending” projections and now only shows unadjusted figures as reported by the Commerce Department.
The two graphics below show total steel imports through March license data. To provide the most clarity, we are only showing a three-year snapshot. To see a greater data history and utilize our interactive graphing features, you can visit our website. Contact us at info@SteelMarketUpdate.com if you have any questions.
Brett LintonRead more from Brett Linton
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