LAS VEGAS Steel imports
arriving at U.S. ports were poised to rebound last month on the
back of major increases in pipe and bar products.
January steel import license
applications totaled nearly 2.4 million tonnes, up 12.4 percent
from December preliminary import figures of 2.1 million tonnes,
according to data from the Commerce Departments Import
Oil country tubular goods (OCTG)
license applications totaled 284,652 tons, up more than 90
percent from Decembers preliminary figure of 149,461
tonnes. South Korea accounted for much of the increase at
97,817 tonnes, the highest figure in more than a year. Imports
of Korean line pipe jumped to 82,114 tonnes in January, three
times the amount tallied in December.
License applications for
hot-rolled bar imports in January were their highest in eight
months at 138,974 tonnes, including 59,941 tonnes from China.
Market sources previously told AMM that wire rod might
have been classified as hot-rolled bar due to added boron in
the steel (amm.com, Jan. 11).
Imports of reinforcing bar more
than doubled in January to 131,149 tonnes due to a sharp
increase in shipments from Turkey to 105,960 tonnes from 27,329
tonnes in December.
But imports could trend downward
in the near term. "Given domestic sheet price weakness over the
past few months and flattish long product prices vs. rising
global steel prices for both types of products, we expect
imports to post a smaller pickup" in the first quarter vs. the
fourth quarter than in recent years, as well as show a
year-over-year decline in the first three months of the year,
Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at Chicago-based Steel
Market Intelligence, said in a note.