U.S. steel imports declined by 13.6 percent in June compared with May but were up by nearly 130 percent from a year earlier, government figures show.
“These import data show that the steel market has not recovered its strength in 2010,” said David Phelps, president of the American Institute for International Steel. “Current, stubbornly high levels of unemployment and low levels of non-residential construction are clearly depressing the steel market and delaying a full economic recovery.”
Phelps noted that while U.S. steel imports during this year’s first half are 35 percent above last year’s recession levels, nearly two-thirds of the increase is semifinished steel for domestic producers that have been cautious about re-starting idle furnaces.
“Most steel consumers in 2010, remembering the financial problems of overbuilt inventory when the market collapsed in 2008, are living on minimal inventories this year, which is further depressing market conditions at this time,” Phelps said.
Imported semifinished steel products increased by 761 percent last month from June 2009. Through the first half of the year, seimifinished imports rose 338 percent to 2.5 million tons.
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