U.S. steel imports surge in July, powered by surge from blooms, billets and slabs

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steel imports

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U.S. steel imports picked up in July, the U.S. Census Bureau reported in its monthly steel import data release today.

U.S. imports of steel reached an estimated 2.4 million metric tons in July, nearly doubling the 1.3 million metric tons imported the previous month.

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Rises in imports of rebar, blooms, billets and slabs

“The July change in steel imports based on metric tonnage reflected increases in blooms, billets, and slabs; galvanized hot dipped sheets; and reinforcing bars,” the Census Bureau reported. “Decreases occurred in oil country goods, line pipe, and standard rails. Increases occurred primarily with Brazil.”

Imports from Brazil reached 1.12 million metric tons in July, up from 21,067 metric tons the previous month and 910,976 metric tons in July 2019.

Rebar imports totaled 113,567 metric tons in July, up from 70,447 metric tons in June.

June imports of blooms, billets and slabs reached 72,334 metric tons. In July, that import figure skyrocketed to 1.20 million metric tons. July 2019 imports, however, reached 1.07 million metric tons.

Year-to-date imports remain down

Steel imports for the year to date, however, are down compared to 2019.

For the year to date through June 2020, the U.S. imported 11.2 million metric tons of steel. Meanwhile, for the same period in 2019, the U.S. imported 14.2 million metric tons.

“The largest commodity decrease occurred primarily in oil country goods,” the Census Bureau said. “Increases occurred primarily in tin free steel; light shaped bars; and pipe and tubing.”

Imports of wire rod, meanwhile, fell to 348,614 metric tons from 511,447 metric tons in 2019.

By country, the largest year-to-date decreases in imports came from Russia and Korea. The largest imports increases came from Canada, Mexico, and Turkey.

Falling OCG imports

July imports of oil country goods reached 62,490 metric tons, down from 97,710 metric tons in June.

Through the first half of 2020, imports of oil country goods totaled 704,231 metric tons, down from 1.31 million metric tons in H1 2019.

The decline in oil country goods imports comes as oil prices have languished.

The WTI crude oil price reached $42.62/barrel on Monday, down slightly from the prior week, according to the Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, the WTI price came in down $11.55/barrel from the price a year ago.

However, the oil price has recovered in recent months after plummeting into negative territory in April.

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