NEW YORK Steel imports
arriving at U.S. ports were poised to slide in February, due
largely to a decrease in shipments of hot-rolled sheet,
hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip, and oil country
February steel license
applications totaled 2.32 million tonnes, down 0.8 percent from
Januarys preliminary import figure of 2.34 million tonnes
and 6 percent lower than 2.47 million tonnes in February last
year, according to data from the U.S. Commerce
Departments Import Administration.
Much of the decline was seen in
oil country goods, which fell 29 percent to 184,017 tonnes;
hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip, down 17.1 percent to
147,837 tonnes; and hot-rolled sheet, which declined 13.3
percent to 177,265 tonnes.
But imports of semifinished
material increased 31.7 percent to 554,412 tonnes, which some
sources said was a result of inventory buildup.
"A big driver of the increased
semifinished tonnage is the likelihood that (ThyssenKrupp
AGs Alabama mill) continued to build slab inventory ahead
of a potential longshoremen strike (which was not averted until
early February) as Brazilian semifinished imports rose 15.9
percent," Michelle Applebaum, managing partner at Chicago-based
Steel Market Intelligence, wrote in a note. Overall,
semifinished imports were up from the five largest sources:
Brazil, Russia, Japan, Mexico and Canada.
Cut-to-length plate imports also
increased in February, jumping 92.1 percent to 85,918 tonnes
due to major shipments from Germany and France, and shipments
of plate in coil rose 31.6 percent to 82,969 tonnes.
Market sources have said that
finding traction on the spot market for foreign commodity flat
products remains difficult as a result of softening U.S.
"Given rising global steel
pricing trends and flat-to-down domestic long- and flat-product
prices in recent months, we expect imports to moderate through
the next few months," Applebaum said.