Steel Products Prices North America

U.S. Apparent Steel Supply Remains Strong in October

Written by Brett Linton

Apparent steel supply remained high in October at 9.86 million net tons, down just 0.6% from September, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce and American Iron and Steel Institute data. Recall that in September we saw the highest supply level in more than six years, going back to January 2015 when supply surpassed 10 million tons. October is now the second highest supply level seen in that same time frame. 

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.

October apparent supply is up 2.57 million tons compared to the same month one year ago (+35.3%), when supply was 7.29 million tons. This improvement was primarily due to a rise in domestic shipments of 1.47 million tons and an increase in finished steel imports of 1.09 million tons. The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was at a surplus of 2.02 million tons imported in October, 1.24 million tons higher than one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 24.0% of apparent steel supply in October, up from 17.5% this time last year.

Compared to the month prior when apparent supply was 9.92 million tons, October supply declined by 55,000 tons. This decrease was due to a 197,000-ton decline in finished imports, partially negated by a 130,000-ton increase in domestic shipments and a 12,000-ton decrease in exports. The net trade balance between imports and exports in October fell 19.9% compared to September, while the percentage of apparent steel supply composed of finished steel imports decreased 1.8%.

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 10 months of 2021 has greatly improved compared to the 2020 average, but is 130,000-270,000 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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