March apparent steel supply at 7-month high

Written by Brett Linton

The amount of new steel available to the US market, dubbed apparent steel supply, rebounded 7% in March, according to SMU calculations on US Department of Commerce and American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) data. Apparent steel supply is calculated by combining domestic steel mill shipments and finished US steel imports, then deducting total US steel exports.

Following last month’s dip, apparent supply jumped to 8.60 million short tons (st) in March, now the highest level seen since August. This monthly gain can be mostly attributed to a rise in finished imports and domestic shipments. While high in relation to the last few months, March supply is just 2% higher than the average monthly supply rate seen over the past year (8.43 million st).

Calculating supply levels on a 3-month moving average (3MMA) basis can smooth out the month-to-month variability to better highlight long-term trends. The 3MMA through March rose to a five-month high of 8.38 million st. Compare this to the 2023 monthly supply average of 8.49 million st and the 2022 average of 8.83 million st. Overall, supply on a 3MMA basis has been trending downward since peaking in late 2021 at 9.87 million st.


Apparent supply in March was 3% lower than the same month one year ago when the supply was 8.82 million st. This decline is primarily due to a 6% decline in domestic mill shipments, as the small year-over-year (y/y) rise in finished import volumes was negated by a similar decline in exports.

Looking across the last four months, apparent supply has risen each month aside from February. In this time period we have seen relatively stable domestic shipments, strengthening finished imports, and a moderate increase in exports.

Figure 3 shows year-to-date (YTD) monthly averages for each statistic over the last four years. The average monthly supply level for the first three months of 2024 is up to 8.38 million st, 3% lower than the same period in 2023. 2022 holds the highest YTD monthly average in our recent history at 8.65 million st.

To see an interactive graphic of our apparent steel supply history, click here. If you need any assistance logging into or navigating the website, contact us at info@steelmarketupdate.com.

Brett Linton

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