Steel Products Prices North America

Apparent Steel Supply Slipped in February

Written by Brett Linton

February apparent U.S. steel supply slipped to 8.5 million net tons, according to data from the American Iron and Steel Institute and U.S. Department of Commerce. Recall that January apparent supply saw a drastic jump over December and was quite high compared to the last few years. The latest data shows suppy has fallen back to around late-2019 lows. Apparent steel supply, a proxy for demand, is determined by combining domestic steel shipments and finished U.S. steel imports, then deducting total U.S. steel exports.

February apparent supply is down 410,000 tons (4.6 percent) compared to the same month one year ago. This change was primarily due to a 395,000 ton decrease in finished imports.

The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was a surplus of 866,000 tons imported in February, down 65.2 percent from the prior month and down 52.7 percent from one year ago. This is the lowest net trade level since December 2011. Finished steel imports accounted for 16.0 percent of apparent steel supply in February, down from 17.2 percent in January and down from 19.7 percent one year ago.

Compared to the prior month when apparent steel supply was 9.5 million tons, February supply declined over 1 million tons or 11.0 percent. The decrease was due to a 764,000 ton decline in domestic shipments and a 286,000 ton decrease in finished imports.

The figure below shows year-to-date averages for each statistic over the last five years. 2020 apparent supply is down over the first two months of 2019, more in line with the 2017 and 2018 YTD averages.

To see an interactive graphic of our Apparent Steel Supply history (examples above and 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.

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