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Steel imports sag to 14-month low in Feb.

Keywords: Tags  steel imports, Census Bureau, oil country tubular goods, hot-rolled sheet, galvanized sheet, pipe and tube, plate, stainless carbon steel

NEW YORK — Steel arrivals at U.S. ports fell to a more than one-year low in February amid major declines in pipe and tube, as well as hot-rolled sheet and hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip.

Imports totaled 2.21 million tonnes in February, preliminary U.S. Census Bureau data released March 26 show, down 6.7 percent from January’s final 2.37 million tonnes and 10.3 percent below 2.47 million tonnes in February 2012. It is the lowest import total seen since December 2011, when 1.87 million tonnes arrived at U.S. ports.

Much of the decrease in the carbon and alloy sector is due to a 34.4-percent month-on-month plunge in imports of oil country tubular goods to 176,300 tonnes in February, particularly from Germany, South Korea and Vietnam.

In the same comparison, hot-rolled sheet imports fell 19.1 percent to 165,361 tonnes, largely due to fall in product from Japan and the Netherlands; and hot-dipped galvanized sheet and strip fell 20.8 percent to 141,252 tonnes amid a drop in Indian arrivals.
Imports of stainless products also fell to 84,100 tonnes, down 20.6 percent vs. January.

Meanwhile, increases were seen in semifinished material, which rose 31.5 percent month on month in February from all major importing countries.

Plate products also posted monthly gains, with plate in coils jumping 31.5 percent to 82,884 tonnes and cut-to-length plate up 68.9 percent to 75,527 tonnes.

Looking forward, importers say business has been particularly difficult due to softening U.S. sheet prices, although import offers for plate arriving into the U.S. Gulf Coast could look attractive if domestic prices hold steady.

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