Steel Products Prices North America

Apparent Steel Supply Keeps Pace in November, Near 10 Million Tons

Written by Brett Linton

U.S. apparent steel supply levels remained high through November, down less than 1% from the month prior to 9.77 million net tons, 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 over six years, going back to January 2015 when supply surpassed 10 million tons.

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.

November apparent supply is up 2.45 million tons compared to the same month one year ago (+33%), when supply was 7.32 million tons. This improvement was primarily due to a rise in finished steel imports of 1.36 million tons and an increase in domestic shipments of 1.14 million tons. The net trade balance between U.S. steel imports and exports was at a surplus of 2.43 million tons imported in November, 1.72 million tons higher than one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 27% of apparent steel supply in November, up from 17% this time last year.

Compared to the month prior when apparent supply was 9.86 million tons, November supply declined by 92,000 tons. This decrease was due to a 321,000-ton decline in domestic shipments, partially negated by a 234,000-ton increase in finished imports. The net trade balance between imports and exports in November rose 20% from October, and the percentage of apparent steel supply composed of finished steel imports increased 3%.

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 11 months of 2021 has greatly improved compared to the 2020 average and is now back in line with the monthly averages of most 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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