Steel imports slide 5.5% as buyers won’t ‘roll the dice’

Dec 30, 2010 | 11:06 AM | Corinna Petry

U.S. imports of some flat-rolled products and wire rod bucked the overall trend of lower import volume in November, but market observers say they're not sure whether higher domestic steel prices will attract foreign material early in 2011 because prices are up everywhere.

Steel imports totaled 1,784,476 net tons in November, down 5.5 percent from the previous month, including 1,495,274 tons of finished steel (down 5.7 percent), according to American Iron and Steel Institute figures based on preliminary Census Bureau data. But higher imports were registered by hot-rolled sheet (up 23.3 percent), coated sheet and strip (up 10.5 percent) and wire rod (up 13.7 percent), the AISI said.

In the first 11 months of 2010, total steel imports were up 49 percent from the same period a year earlier and finished steel imports were 33 percent higher. Wire rod registered an 87-percent increase in the same comparison.

It's unclear who was buying more foreign steel. "We sometimes buy from a trader, but all of that (material) is from domestic mills," a Midwest service center buyer told AMM. "We have not seen an imported coil of steel in 18 months or longer."....

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