Steel Products Prices North America

Apparent Steel Supply Rises in October, Remains Low Historically

Written by Brett Linton

US apparent steel supply ticked up 3% in October to 8.5 million net tons, according to data from the US Department of Commerce and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Recall that apparent supply had fallen to a 19-month low in September—so while levels increased in October, it represents the third-lowest figure recorded in the last year and a half. October supply was 7% below the average monthly rate from the past year (9.09 million tons).

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

October apparent supply was 1.37 million tons lower than the same month one year ago when supply stood at 9.86 million tons. This 14% decline was primarily due to a 1.01-million-ton decrease in domestic shipments, followed by a 383,000-ton decrease in finished imports. A 22,000-ton decrease in total exports slightly lessened the overall decline. The net trade balance between US steel imports and exports was at a surplus of 1.72 million tons imported in October, 15% less than levels one year prior. Finished steel imports accounted for 23% of supply in October, down from 24% this time last year. Figure 2 shows October trade statistics for each of the past three years.

Compared to September, when apparent supply was 8.29 million tons, October’s supply rose by 207,000 tons. This 3% increase was primarily due to a 111,000-ton increase in finished imports, followed by a 70,000-ton increase in domestic shipments and a 26,000-ton decrease in total exports. The net trade balance between imports and exports in October rose 14% from September. The percentage of apparent steel supply composed of finished steel imports remained steady at 23%. Figure 3 shows monthly statistics over the last three months.

Figure 4 shows year-to-date (YTD) monthly averages for each statistic over the last five years. The average monthly apparent supply level for the first ten months of 2022 is now 8.98 million tons. This is down 1% compared to the same period of 2021, 19% higher than 2020 YTD supply, but 3-4% lower than 2018 and 2019 YTD levels.

Projecting out the YTD monthly average supply level for 2022 yields an annual estimate of 107.8 million tons, 1% lower than 2021. Apparent supply for the entire year of 2021 totaled 110.3 million tons, compared to 90.3 million tons in 2020 and 109.5 million tons in 2019. In Steel Market Update’s 13-year data history, 2014 holds the annual record with a total apparent supply of 119.5 million tons.

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

Read more from Brett Linton

Latest in Steel Products Prices North America