U.S. steel imports slid in February from the same month last year, but imports of slab steel more than doubled, indicating that the market for semi-finished steel is strengthening, the American Institute for Imported Steel said Tuesday.
Steel imports dropped by 1 percent from February a year ago and by 5.3 percent sequentially from January of this year, based on preliminary reporting.
“While imports of slabs were down in February compared to January, they are up by 128 percent compared to 2009 on a year to date basis and are signaling improved market conditions for products made by domestic integrated producers,” said David Phelps, president of AIIS.
Phelps said the shorter month of February and difficult winter weather in large portions of the U.S. resulted in lower import reporting in February.
“With domestic demand strengthening and steel price increases being accepted in the market, we do not believe that the decline in February is the beginning of a negative trend for imports,” Phelps said.
Total steel imports in February 2010 were 1.6 million tons compared to 1.7 million tons in January 2010, a 5.3 percent decrease, and a 1 percent decrease compared to February 2009. According to year-to-date figures, imports decreased 18.2 percent compared to 2009 or from 4 million tons in 2009 to 3.2 million tons in 2010.
The data show that imported semi-finished products increased by 227.1 percent in February 2010 as compared to February 2009.
For the year-to-date period, semi-finished imports increased from 322 million tons in 2009 to 737 million tons in 2010, a 128.8 percent increase, based on preliminary reporting.
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