NEW YORK U.S. steel slab imports fell to their lowest level in 15 months in January.
Imports of the unfinished material totaled 410,722 tonnes, according to U.S. Census Bureau data compiled by AMM, down 30 percent from 586,839 tonnes the previous month and 23.1 percent lower than 533,856 tonnes in January 2012.
The decline was due partly to steadily climbing slab export prices in recent months from the Commonwealth of Independent States and Latin America, sources said.
One of the largest declines was recorded by the Philadelphia district, which saw imports fall 66.3 percent to 72,062 tonnes in January from 214,038 tonnes in December. The district includes the Pennsylvania facilities of Portage, Ind.-based NLMK USA; Chicago-based Evraz Inc. North Americas Claymont, Del., operations; and Chicago-based ArcelorMittal USA Inc.s Coatesville, Pa., plant.
Slabs imported via the Los Angeles district, which includes Fontana, Calif.-based California Steel Industries Inc., saw imports plunge 70.1 percent to 34,561 tonnes in January from 115,579 tonnes in December, while imports through the Columbia-Snake River region, which includes Evrazs Portland, Ore.-based mill, fell to zero from 55,843 tonnes.
But Mobile, Ala., saw its slab imports jump 50.9 percent to 286,421 tonnes from 189,765 tonnes in December.