NEW YORK U.S. steel imports fell 2.3 percent to 2.72 million tonnes in April from more than 2.78 million tonnes the previous month but were 17.6 percent above 2.31 million tonnes a year earlier, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Major product increases last month included plate in coil, which more than doubled to 186,350 tonnes vs. March due to higher Russian shipments, while wire rod imports jumped 57.2 percent to 140,605 tonnes due to gains from China and Turkey.
But a number of major products plunged in the same comparison, including line pipe (down 33.2 percent), cut-to-length plate (down 24.9 percent), cold-rolled sheet (down 30.7 percent) and semi-finished products (down 22.4 percent).
"The uptick puts year-to-date imports nearly 30 percent higher than year-ago levels," Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at Steel Market Intelligence, wrote in a research note. "Through the first two weeks of May, import licenses are trending a nominal 2.4 percent lower than peak April levels, but given overproduction in other regions we expect to see imports remain high in coming months."
May import licenses totaled 2.08 million tonnes through the first three weeks of May, according to the U.S. Commerce Departments Import Administration.