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September steel import licenses edge up

Keywords: Tags  steel license applications, ports, Commerce Department, imports, hot-rolled, cut to length, Michelle Applebaum

NEW YORK — Steel arriving at U.S. ports appear poised to end a four-month slide in September on the back of increases in hot-rolled sheet, plate in coil and semifinished product.

September import license applications tallied 2.31 million tonnes, up 3 percent from August preliminary figures of 2.25 million tonnes, according to data released Tuesday by the Commerce Department’s Import Administration.

"The tide-bucking flat-rolled jump may have been in part based on labor worries that started in June, or may have been driven off of rising price premiums in July," Michelle Applebaum, managing partner of Chicago-based Steel Market Intelligence, wrote in a research note. "Either way, the jump compares to monthly average sheet imports of 630,000 in (the first quarter) and 747,000 in (the second quarter), so we’re not back to the peaks of a few months ago."

Flat-rolled steel traders have recently said that the market remains limp on account of oversupply and sliding domestic prices.

Major gains in the carbon and alloy group were seen in hot-rolled sheet, which jumped 28.3 percent to 202,208 tonnes led by shipments from South Korea and Japan. However, sheet from Russia fell to zero tonnes as the country’s negotiations with the United States concerning their suspension agreement continue.

Other gains were seen in plate in coil, which jumped 33.4 percent to 103,098 tonnes, as India accounted for 20,255 tonnes after posting zero in August.

Notable decreases were registered in cut-to-length plate, which plunged 29.5 percent to 92,098 tonnes on significant drops from Brazil, Turkey and Romania. Imports of line pipe also dropped to 135,630 tonnes, down from August’s 154,275 tonnes.

Stainless import licenses fell 19.8 percent to 82,359 tonnes in September, set to be the lowest figure since December 2011.

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