Steel Imports Surge Nearly 26% in First Quarter, Domestic Steel Prices Flat

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US steel imports surged 25.7 per cent in the first quarter, fueling concerns that it is foreign producers, rather than American manufacturers, that are reaping the benefits of the shale gas revolution, the Financial Times reported.

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The jump in steel imports has been accompanied by a drop in the price of US-made steel products and is being used by steel producers, along with their unions, trade lawyers and political allies, to press the US government to confront the problem more aggressively, the FT said. In particular, they want to slap anti-dumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel in a wide range of big cases against producers in countries from South Korea to Mexico.

In particular, the US steel sector is nervous about a preliminary ruling by the Commerce Department earlier this year that spared South Korea from new duties on “oil country tubular goods” – steel tubes used in the liquid natural gas drilling and other energy uses. A final ruling is due later this year.

Between January and March, the US imported 8.8 million net tons of steel products, up from 7 million net tons in the first three months of 2013, according to data analyzed by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think-tank in Washington.

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Chinese steel prices were flat for the day. The price of iron ore 58% fines from India hit a high price of CNY 840.00 ($134.66) and a low price of CNY 830.00 ($133.06) per dry metric ton. The price of Chinese HRC held steady at CNY 3,360 ($538.66) per metric ton. The price of Chinese coking coal continues hovering around CNY 1,390 ($222.84) per metric ton for the fifth day in a row.

For the fifth day in a row, the steel billet cash price remained essentially flat on the LME at $390.00 per metric ton. For the fifth consecutive day, the 3-month price of steel billet held flat on the LME at $400.00 per metric ton.

The US HRC futures contract 3-month price remained essentially flat at $637.00 per short ton. The US HRC futures contract spot price saw essentially no change for the fifth day in a row, remaining around $684.00 per short ton.

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