SMU Data and Models

Apparent steel supply jumps to 21-month high in May

Written by Brett Linton

The volume of finished steel entering the US market, dubbed ‘apparent steel supply,’ ticked up 3% from April to May according to SMU analysis of Department of Commerce and the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) data.

Following a strong March and April, apparent supply rose further in May to 8.90 million short tons (st). This is now the highest monthly supply level seen since August 2022 and 5% greater than the average monthly rate of the past year (8.44 million st). We calculate apparent supply by combining domestic steel mill shipments and finished US steel imports, then deduct total US steel exports.

Calculating supply levels on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis can smooth out the month-to-month variability to better highlight long-term trends. The 3MMA through May rose to an 11-month high of 8.70 million st. Compare this to the 2023 monthly supply average of 8.49 million st and the 2022 average of 8.83 million st. Supply on a 3MMA basis has generally trended downward over the past few years, following the late 2021 peak of 9.87 million st.

Looking across the last four months, apparent supply has trended upwards since February. In this time period we have seen strengthening mill shipments and finished imports, and relatively stable exports.

Focusing on the past two months, supply rose by 272,000 st from April to May. This was primarily due to a 141,000 st (7%) increase in finished imports, combined with a 75,000 st (1%) rise in domestic shipments and a 57,000 st (7%) decline in exports.

Figure 4 shows year-to-date (YTD) monthly averages for each statistic over the last four years. The average monthly supply level for the first five months of 2024 is up to 8.53 million st, 2% lower than the same period last year. Last year holds the highest YTD monthly average in our recent history at 8.67 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

Brett Linton

Read more from Brett Linton

Latest in SMU Data and Models