Steel imports increased 6.5 percent in March over February based on preliminary U.S. government reporting.
The largest product increase in March was in slabs, which reflects the domestic industry’s need for more raw materials while market prices and demand were strengthening, according to David Phelps, president of the American Institute for International Steel.
“Mexico led the way with the largest increase in March,” Phelps said. “Improved market conditions in early 2012 have resulted in increased shipments of both semifinished and finished steel from both NAFTA and off-shore suppliers."
For the year to date, steel imports increased by 31.2 percent from the same period last year. Phelps said the steel market has continued to advance slowly through the first quarter of 2012, from the bottom of the recession in 2009.
Import data for both finished and semifinished steel reflect that improvement. “Recent AIIS survey results continue to reflect improved market conditions in 2012 over 2011, notwithstanding occasional pauses due to the need for the market to absorb increased inventories, such as currently,” Phelps said.
Total steel imports in March 2012 were 2.898 million tons, an increase of 6.5 percent from February and a 17.6 percent increase year-over-year.
For the year to date, imports increased 31.2 percent to 8.434 million tons from 6.427 million tons in the first three months of 2011.
March imports of semifinished products increased by 23.3 percent year-over-year to 736,000 tons from 597,000 tons in 2011. In the first three months of 2012, imports of semifinished products jumped 39.8 percent year-over-year to 1.985 million tons.