Steel Products Prices North America

March Apparent Steel Supply Inches Up But Remains Low

Written by Brett Linton


U.S apparent steel supply rose to 8.66 million net tons in March, according to recent U.S. Department of Commerce and American Iron and Steel Institute data. Although up over the previous month, March supply remains on the low-side historically and is the fourth lowest supply level seen in the past three years. 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.

March apparent supply was down 939,000 tons (9.8 percent) compared to the same month one year ago, when apparent supply was 9.60 million tons. This change was primarily due to a 526,000 ton decline in domestic shipments and a 338,000 ton decrease in finished imports.

The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was a surplus of 1,088,000 tons imported in March, up 25.6 percent from the prior month, but down 34.9 percent from one year ago. Recall that February’s net trade balance was the lowest level since December 2011. Finished steel imports accounted for 17.6 percent of apparent steel supply in March, up from 16.0 percent in February, but down from 19.4 percent one year ago.

Compared to the prior month when apparent steel supply was 8.49 million tons, March supply rose 176,000 tons or 2.1 percent. The increase was primarily due to a 169,000 ton increase in finished imports.

The figure below shows year-to-date averages for each statistic over the last five years. 2020 apparent supply was down over the first three months of 2019, more in line with the 2016 and 2017 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 info@SteelMarketUpdate.com or 800-432-3475.

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