U.S. steel imports jump 16% in March; oil country goods see import surge

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U.S. imports of steel jumped in March from the previous month, hitting a preliminary total of 1.6 million metric tons compared with February’s 1.4 million metric tons, according to the Census Bureau.

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“The March change in steel imports based on metric tonnage reflected increases in oil country goods; blooms, billets, and slabs; and cold rolled sheets,” the Bureau reported. “Decreases occurred in heavy structural shapes, hot rolled sheets, and reinforcing bars. Increases occurred primarily with Russia, Korea, and Canada. Decreases occurred primarily with Turkey, Brazil, and Japan.”

For the first two months of the year, U.S. steel imports totaled 4.2 million metric tons, down from 5.4 million metric tons for the first two months of 2019.

“The largest commodity decrease occurred primarily in oil country goods,” the Bureau reported. “Increases occurred primarily in tin free steel, mechanical tubing, and heavy structural shapes. The largest country decrease occurred with Korea. Increases occurred primarily with Canada and Mexico.”

Imports of oil country goods in March reached 176,648 tons, up from 77,174 tons the previous month.

Preliminary blooms, billets and slabs imports were 215,017 tons in March, up from 145,166 tons in February. Imports of HDG sheet and strip reached a preliminary total of 186,682 tons in March, up from 173,061 tons in February.

Meanwhile, imports of hot-rolled sheets fell to 122,710 tons in March from 141,094 tons the previous month. Imports of cold-rolled sheet reached 114,671 tons in March, up from 88,257 tons the previous month.

By country, imports from Korea were at a preliminary level of 185,973 tons in March, up from 143,674 tons in February and 157,648 tons in March 2019. Imports from Canada increased 9.4% from February to 486,013 tons in March. Steel imports from Mexico fell 3.4% from February to 246,767 tons in March.

Finished steel import market share reached 17% in March, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), up from 16% in February.

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The Census Bureau’s April import report is scheduled to be released May 27.

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