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Steel import licenses up 4.1% in March

Keywords: Tags  steel imports, oil country tubular goods, line pipe, Commerce, rebar, hot-rolled bar, rebar, cold-rolled sheet catherine ngai

NEW YORK — Steel arriving at U.S. ports appeared poised to increase 4.1 percent in March, largely due to gains in energy-related products.

Nearly 2.31 million tonnes of steel were licensed for import for March, according to data from the Commerce Department’s Import Administration, up from a preliminary February import total of 2.21 million tonnes.

Most of the steel arriving in March was likely booked before the first quarter, sources said, as import transactions in recent months have been difficult due to softer U.S. prices and stable but lackluster demand (, April 2).

"Imports haven’t really been part of the picture in the past 90 days or so. The stuff that’s arriving now has been booked before. There won’t really be a lot of stuff showing up (for a) while," one trader said.

Import license applications for oil country tubular goods jumped 33 percent to 234,411 tonnes in March, boosted by higher shipments from South Korea, Canada, India and Ukraine, while import licenses for line pipe jumped 17.6 percent to 211,334 tonnes on the back of increased shipments from Korea and the United Kingdom.

License applications for hot-rolled bar jumped 17.4 percent to 114,598 tonnes, with a near-doubling in licenses for China to 40,614 tonnes more than offsetting an 85.3-percent plunge in U.K. applications to 1,530 tonnes.

Rebar import licenses totaled 111,696 tonnes, a 13-month high, up 49.8 percent from February due to increases from Turkey and Mexico.

Import licenses for semifinished product, however, fell 15.4 percent to 468,455 tonnes in March due to sharp decreases from Russia and Japan vs. the previous month.

Cold-rolled sheet import licenses fell 22.3 percent to 81,761 tonnes, the lowest level since July last year, as China and Brazil logged major reductions.

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