U.S. steel imports rise 27% in October

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steel imports

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U.S. steel imports totaled 1.4 million metric tons in October, up from 1.1 million metric tons the previous month, the Census Bureau reported.

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U.S. steel imports pick up

Although U.S. steel imports are down for the year, October imports picked up.

U.S. steel imports jumped approximately 27% from the preliminary September total to the preliminary October figure.

For the year through September, the U.S. imported 16.1 million metric tons. Meanwhile, for the same period in 2019, the U.S. imported 20.5 million metric tons.

Rebar, cold-rolled sheets and blooms, billets and slabs pace increase

Per the Census Bureau data, the U.S. saw significant jumps in imports in three categories: rebar; cold-rolled sheets; and blooms, billets and slabs.

From September to October, imports of blooms, billets and slabs jumped from 80,154 metric tons to 233,798 metric tons, an approximately 192% increase.

Rebar imports nearly doubled, jumping from 39,080 metric tons to 76,347 metric tons.

Cold-rolled sheet imports jumped from 67,173 metric tons to 94,863 metric tons, a 41% increase.

On the other hand, imports of sheets and strips, tin plates, and hot-rolled sheets declined from September to October.

OCG down

In U.S. steel imports news relevant to the oil sector, imports of oil country goods (OCG) for the year to date declined.

Imports during the nine-month period totaled 831,459 metric tons. That total marked a 54% year-over-year decline.

However, the oil price has picked up of late. The WTI crude oil price closed Nov. 24 at $44.91 per barrel, up $3.48 per barrel from the previous week, per the Energy Information Administration.

Furthermore, from September to October, imports of OCG rose 126% to 47,526 metric tons.

Oil demand remains depressed amid the pandemic, with many foregoing car trips (or vacations altogether) and a significant percentage of the U.S. workforce transitioning to remote work setups. However, recent announcements regarding the efficacy of potential COVID-19 vaccines could serve as a shot of support to demand for various steel products, including OCG, as Americans become more comfortable with returning to the previously normal rhythms of life.

Of course, when mass rollout for such vaccines will occur is still up in the air.

U.S. steel imports surge from Mexico, Turkey

Viewed through the lens of imports by country, the U.S. saw an increase from Mexico. The U.S. imported 252,348 metric tons of steel from Mexico in October, up 34% from the previous month. While perhaps a niche consideration for the steel market at large, the United States Trade Representative recently announced a preemptive exemption for Mexico from a potential future Section 232 tariff on grain-oriented electrical steel.

Meanwhile, imports from Canada were about flat from September to October.

On the other hand, imports from Taiwan, South Africa and the U.K. declined, per the Census Bureau.

In year to date, increases came from Turkey, Brazil and Singapore. Imports from Turkey jumped from just 5,941 metric tons in September to 61,948 metric tons the following month. For the year to date, U.S. steel imports from Turkey jumped 65% to 387,608 metric tons in the January-September 2020 period.

Meanwhile, U.S. steel imports from Russia declined.

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