Steel Products Prices North America

Apparent Steel Supply Rebounds 14% in March

Written by Brett Linton

US apparent steel supply rebounded from February to March, rising 14% to 9.51 million tons, according to the latest US Department of Commerce and American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) data. Recall that supply reached a six-year high last September at 9.92 million tons, declining each month thereafter and reaching an 11-month low in February (8.37 million tons).  

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

Apparent supply for 2021 totaled 110.3 million tons, up 22% from 90.3 million tons in 2020, and up 1% from 109.5 million tons in 2019. In Steel Market Update’s 13-year data history, 2014 holds the annual record at 119.5 million tons.

March apparent supply is 551,000 tons higher than the same month one year ago, when supply was 8.96 million tons. This 6% improvement was primarily due to a 719,000-ton increase in finished steel imports, slightly reduced by a 115,000-ton decrease in domestic shipments and a 53,000-ton increase in total exports. The net trade balance between US steel imports and exports was at a surplus of 2.25 million tons imported in March, 731,000 tons higher than one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 26% of apparent steel supply in March, up from 20% this time last year. The graphic below shows March trade statistics for each of the past three years.

Compared to the month prior, when apparent supply was 8.37 million tons, March supply rose by 1.14 million tons. This 14% increase was primarily due to a 658,000-ton increase in finished steel imports and a 603,000-ton increase in domestic shipments, the sum of which was slightly reduced by a 116,000-ton increase in total exports. The net trade balance between imports and exports in March rose 38% from February. The percentage of apparent steel supply composed of finished steel imports increased 4%. The graphic below shows monthly statistics over the last three months.

The figure below shows year-to-date monthly averages for each statistic over the last five years. The average monthly apparent supply level for the first three months of 2022 has improved compared to the same period in 2021, 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, 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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