Steel Products Prices North America

February Apparent Steel Supply Slips 500,000 Tons

Written by Brett Linton

February apparent steel supply slipped 500,000 tons or 6.3% from the 10-month high seen in January, now at 7.51 million net tons, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce and American Iron and Steel Institute data. Although down from the month prior, February supply is at the third highest level seen in the last 10 months. Recall that April and May of 2020 were the two lowest levels seen in the last 10 years at 6.53 million tons and 6.60 million tons, respectively. February supply is down nearly 950,000 tons compared to the same month in 2020.

Apparent steel supply, a proxy for demand, is determined by combining domestic steel mill shipments and finished U.S. steel imports, then deducting total U.S. steel exports.

February apparent supply declined 11.2% compared to the same month one year ago when supply was 8.46 million tons. This change was primarily due to a 1.04 million ton decline in domestic shipments. Finished imports were up 89,000 tons from levels one year prior, slightly reducing the year-over-year decline in supply. Total exports were flat year-over-year.

The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was a surplus of 1.22 million tons imported in February, down 30.1% from the previous month, but up 46.4% from one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 19.3% of apparent steel supply in February, up from 15.8% in January, and up from 16.1% one year ago.

Compared to January when apparent supply was 8.01 million tons, February supply decreased by 505,000 tons or 6.3%. This change was due to a 686,000-ton decrease in domestic shipments, partially reduced by a 187,000-ton increase in finished imports. Exports increased 6,000 tons.

The figure below shows year-to-date averages for each statistic over the last five years. 2021 apparent supply remains significantly lower compared to the monthly averages of all previous years shown.

To see an interactive graphic of our Apparent Steel Supply history (example shown below), visit the Apparent Steel Supply page in the Analysis section of the SMU website. If you need any assistance logging into or navigating the website, contact us at

By Brett Linton,

Brett Linton

Read more from Brett Linton

Latest in Steel Products Prices North America