Steel Products Prices North America

September Apparent Steel Supply Nears 10 Million Tons, a 6.5-Year High

Written by Brett Linton

September apparent steel supply increased by 90,000 tons over August to 9.92 million net tons, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce and American Iron and Steel Institute data. This is the highest supply level seen in more than six years, going back to January 2015 when supply surpassed 10 million tons. September supply is up 2.76 million tons compared to the same month one year ago.

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.

September apparent supply is up 38.5% compared to the same month last year, when supply was 7.16 million tons. This increase was primarily due to an increase in domestic shipments of 1.42 million tons and a 1.38-million-ton increase in finished steel imports, all slightly negated by a 52,000-ton increase in exports. The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was at a surplus of 2.52 million tons imported in September, up by 1.94 million tons, or 332.8%, from one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 25.8% of apparent steel supply in September, up 9.4% from one year ago.

Compared to the month prior, when apparent supply was 9.83 million tons, September supply rose by 90,000 tons, or 0.9%. This increase was due to a 378,000-ton rise in finished imports, mostly negated by a 319,000-ton decline in domestic shipments, plus a 32,000-ton decrease in exports. The net trade balance between imports and exports in September rose 25.4% compared to August, while the percentage of apparent steel supply composed of finished steel imports increased 3.6%.

The figure below shows year-to-date averages for each statistic over the last five years. The average monthly apparent supply level for the first nine months of 2021 has greatly improved compared to the 2020 average but is 206,000-341,000 tons per month 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

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