NEW YORK Steel arriving at U.S. ports through December was poised to hit an 11-month low, due to major volume declines across most finished steel products.
Import license applications in December tallied 2.1 million tonnes, an 11.3-percent decrease from November preliminary import figures, according to data from the Commerce Departments Import Administration. Those figures, however, were up from December 2011 imports of 1.9 million tonnes.
Last month, trading sources told AMM that while the first half of 2012 looked strong for imports, a midyear lull triggered by falling domestic prices and the U.S. elections caused a considerable slide in business (amm.com, Dec. 27). That sluggishness continued through December, the data show.
In the carbon and alloy steel sector, major declines were seen in oil country tubular goods (OCTG) imports, which dropped 36.5 percent to 132,778 tonnes in December due to the lowest-volume arrivals from South Korea in more than a year. Imports of hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip fell 35.6 percent to 110,368 tonnes, led by a major plunge in material from India.
While cold-rolled sheet imports saw a bounce the previous month, that market again logged declines in December. A slide in imports from China, Canada, South Korea and Japan, among others, led to a 17.9-percent overall decline in cold-rolled steel to 109,805 tonnes.
Only a few steel products saw a rise in imported volumes last month. Gains were seen in semifinished material imports, which rose 8.7 percent to 637,982 tonnes due to increases from Russia and Mexico, while hot-rolled sheet saw a 16.4-percent increase due to imports from Australia hitting a 13-month high.