February license data indicate that steel imports will have totaled 2.19 million net tons last month, down 16.2% from January. February levels are also down 13.8% when compared to the previous 12-month average.
Recall that monthly import levels declined nearly 17% month on month (MoM) in November, before rebounding in December and January. February figures are now down nearly 29% compared to March 2022’s 26-month high of 3.09 million tons.
Broken down by product category, semifinished product imports in February fell by nearly 11% vs. the previous month, according to license data. Long product imports in February were down more than 14.2% MoM. Flat-rolled imports fell nearly 23%, and stainless imports were down 25.5%. Pipe and tube were also down MoM in February, falling nearly 13%.
Although imports were down for long stretches in 2022, the monthly average for last year totaled 2.57 million tons, down just 2.1% from the monthly average in 2021. Year-to-date, the monthly average is down 10.3% in 2023 vs. 2022.
Due to large monthly swings in semifinished imports in recent years, the chart below shows total imports on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis to more accurately display trends. The 3MMA is 2.22 million tons through February license figures, among the lowest totals over the past two years.
Recall that in January of 2022, the 3MMA had reached a 42-month high of 2.94 million tons, while the lowest 3MMA level in SMU’s recent history was in November 2020 at 1.36 million tons.
The table below displays flat-rolled product imports as well as other high-volume products, including rebar, tin plate, wire rod, structural pipe and tube, and other long products. We also provide data on imports divided into semifinished, finished, flat-rolled, longs, pipe and tube, and stainless products.
The charts below show monthly imports for two product groups: flat-rolled and pipe and tube. February licenses for flat-rolled imports totaled 676,792 tons, the lowest total since January 2021.
License data indicates only 1.55 million tons of flat-rolled steel to have entered the country in January and February, well behind the 2.19 million tons during the same period in 2022. Pipe and tube imports were 512,914 tons in February, the lowest total over the past four months, but in line with levels seen over the past year.
By David Schollaert, firstname.lastname@example.org
David SchollaertRead more from David Schollaert
Latest in Steel Products Prices North America
Cliffs moves sheet prices higher, seeks $1,100/ton HRC
Cleveland-Cliffs is now targeting base prices of $1,100 per ton ($55 per cwt) for hot-rolled coil (HRC).
SMU price ranges: Sheet surge continues on limited spot availability
Sheet prices shot higher again this week on the heels of another round of mill price increases as well as on reports of production and supply chain issues at certain domestic producers.
Galvanized Sheet’s Premium Over Hot Rolled Hovering Around $200/Ton
The spread between hot-rolled coil (HRC) and galvanized sheet base prices has been hovering near $200 per net ton since late July, according to SMU’s latest analysis.
Plate Report: Quiet Turning to Sluggish?
The US plate market has been rather quiet over the past couple of weeks since Nucor Corp. caught many off guard with a $140-per-ton price cut.
SSAB’s Jeff Moskaluk on Wind’s Flurry of Opportunity for Steel
SMU discussed wind energy, a promising end-use market for steel, with SSAB Americas’ SVP and CCO Jeff Moskaluk.