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Steel beam imports set to post larger gains

Keywords: Tags  steel, steel beams, imports, licence applications, wide-flange beams, Frank Haflich

LOS ANGELES — March imports of steel beams look likely to surpass February’s level by 49 percent as import permit applications continued to stream in through April 1.

Import licence applications for standard and wide-flange beams totaled 31,562 tonnes in March vs. 21,179 tonnes in February, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Enforcement and Compliance division. The revised data means beam arrivals in March were set to rise last month by even more than the 25.1-percent increase indicated last week (, March 26).

The latest figures also indicate that while March beam arrivals still weren’t likely to match the 33,587 tonnes that arrived in the same month last year, they were in line to come considerably closer than previous projections of 21,492 tonnes.

While Russia was the single largest source of March imports at 7,125 tonnes, rising applications from other countries were evident in the final days of last month, including Spain, whose shipments were negligible in the preceding three months but accounted for 3,075 tonnes in March, and the United Kingdom, which accounted for 2,927 tonnes in March vs. 840 tonnes in February.

Luxembourg, normally among the import leaders, had looked likely to fall behind February’s 4,705 tonnes but instead ended March 36.7 percent ahead at 6,429 tonnes, putting it in second place behind Russia and ahead of South Korea’s 6,166 tonnes.

Most beams arriving in March were likely ordered in late 2013 or early this year. Market sources said the overall outlook for beams this year could hinge on the success of domestic mills in their efforts to both boost published tags and eliminate discounts, especially in import-heavy markets (, March 25).

"I’m getting foreign beam offers from the East now," one California distributor said, referring to Houston, noting that the offers aren’t currently attractive but could be worth pursuing if domestic tags continue to rise.

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