NEW YORK U.S. steel imports increased slightly in November on the back of stronger shipments of semifinished products and cold-rolled sheet.
More than 2.41 million tonnes of steel arrived at U.S. ports in November, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, a 2-percent rise from October and a 25.4-percent spike from imports in November 2011. Carbon and alloy steel imports of 2.32 million tonnes were up 2.1 percent from October and 26.1 percent from a year earlier, while stainless steel imports of 88,817 tonnes were down 0.1 percent from October but up 9.5 percent from November 2011, the data show.
Leading the increase were imports of carbon and alloy blooms, billets and slabs, which saw volumes jump 39.1 percent month on month and 41.6 percent year on year to 586,840 tonnes. Cold-rolled sheet imports also were up sharply in November, climbing 40.6 percent from October and 73 percent year on year to 133,721 tonnes.
Steel Market Intelligence managing partner Michelle Applebaum said the rise in semifinished steel imports could reflect some mills stocking up on material ahead of the International Longshoremens Associations labor contract expiration. The union had been set to strike Dec. 30, which would have halted imports into 14 major East and Gulf coast ports, but late last week the sides agreed to continue talks until February (amm.com, Dec. 28
But while some products logged a stronger November, other items recorded a sharp decline in imports, the Census Bureau data show. Heavy structural shape imports dropped 44 percent month on month to 30,231 tonnes, while cut-to-length carbon and alloy plate arrivals dropped 35.5 percent to 60,357 tonnes.