Based on reported import licenses, and after a significant rise in March, US long products imports declined 26% from 583,000 short tons in March to 432,000 tons in April. Long products imports in April 2014 were 410,000 tons and in April 2013 they were 249,000 tons. Long products imports for the first four months of 2015 were 12% higher than in the same period last year.

The decline in April was mainly due to lower rebar imports from Turkey and to a lesser extent from Japan (after imports from these countries increased significantly in March). Wire rod imports also fell, again mainly due to lower volumes from Turkey.

Long products import licenses for May as reported mid-month on May 19th were 225,000 tons which is likely to mean that full-month May longs imports will be a bit lower than April’s.

SIMA US long products import licenses and import actuals
2012 to 2015

short tons

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Ciao nerds di acciaio! You might be interested to know that the main exhibition of the Italian steel industry Made in Steel is taking place in Milan this Wednesday through Friday (May 20-22, 2015), right beside the location of the world Expo. All the largest Italian steelmakers will be present, including flat producers Ilva and Arvedi, as well as international players that have significant Italian investments such as ArcelorMittal, and of course, just as important, suppliers, distributors and processors.

For those of you who don’t know much about the Italian steel industry, Italy is the second largest steel producer of the European Union 28 countries behind Germany and ahead of France. Italian steelmakers produced 23.7 million tonnes of crude steel in 2014, 11.3 million tonnes of long products and 11.9 million tonnes of flat products. Steel exports from Italy in the same year included 4.3 million tonnes of long products and 6.8 million tonnes of flat products. 72% of output is produced via electric arc furnaces. The Italian steel industry, not unlike in many other countries, is facing stiff challenges at the moment including slow domestic demand, growing competition in export markets, and high energy costs. In addition, and in some cases as a result, a number of the largest steelmakers such as Ilva, AST (Terni), Piombino (former Lucchini), and Stefana, are undergoing ownership changes, capacity reductions or idlings, and/or legal claims. As the Americans say, it’s complicated. But if you’d like to know more, take a look at the Made in Steel website, the Italian steel industry association website, or send me your questions.

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Based on reported import licenses, US flat products imports fell 21% from 1,271,000 short tons in March to 1,004,000 tons in April. Flat products imports in April 2014 were 1,055,000 tons and in April 2013 they were 737,000 tons. Imports of flat products for the first 4 months of 2015 were 27% higher than in the same period last year.

Hot rolled and hot dip galvanized products showed the largest import declines in April. Hot rolled imports fell significantly from Korea, Turkey, South Africa and India while hot dip galvanized imports fell mainly from India and Korea.

I will update the chart below to show mid-May licenses when the figures are published the week of May 18th.

SIMA US import licenses and actuals, flat products
April 2012 to April 2015
short tons

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In its latest Short Range Outlook (SRO), published April 20th, Worldsteel revised its world apparent steel use (ASU) growth forecast downward. The revision decreased estimated world steel consumption growth between 2014 and 2015 from 2.0% in its October Short Range Outlook to 0.5% in the recent published figures. In addition, Worldsteel expects world ASU to increase by 1.4% between 2015 and 2016 to reach 1,566 million metric tonnes.

Instead of growing by 1.0% in 2014 as predicted in October by Worldsteel, China’s apparent steel use fell by 3.3%. China’s ASU in 2015 is expected to decline by 0.5%, while October’s Worldsteel Short Range Outlook expected it to increase by 0.8%. Steel consumption is expected to decline again by 0.5% in China in 2016.

Apparent steel use growth estimates for 2015 were revised downward not only in China, but in every region of the world, with negative growth expected now in the CIS (-7.3%), NAFTA (-0.9%), and Central & South America (-3.4%). In addition, 2015 steel consumption growth in the European Union was revised downward from 2.9% to 2.1%.

See the spreadsheet below for Worldsteel 2016 growth estimates together with all the Worldsteel Short Range Outlook figures over the last few years.

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Worldsteel reported Chinese crude steel production at 69.5 million metric tonnes in March, 1.1% lower than in March 2014. Chinese crude production in the first three months of 2015 was 0.9% lower than in the same period last year.

China’s net finished steel exports (exports minus imports) in March were 6.7 million tonnes, 21% higher than in March 2014. First quarter 2015 net exports were 54% higher than in the first quarter of 2014.

China monthly crude steel production
January 2012 to March 2015

thousand metric tons

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Worldsteel published March’s world crude steel production on April 21st. World crude steel production was 138.0 million metric tonnes, 2.6% lower than in March 2014. World output for the first quarter of 2015 was 1.4% lower than in the same period last year.

China accounted for 50% of world crude steel production in March with output of 69.5 million tonnes, down 1.1% compared to March 2014. Elsewhere in Asia, Japanese production fell March 2014 to March 2015 by 4.5% and South Korean production fell by 11.0%, while Indian output was up 10.0%. In the Americas, US output fell 12.7% and Brazilian production was down 7.4%. In the CIS region, production fell in the Ukraine by 35.6% and was up 0.2% in Russia. And finally, European Union crude production fell 0.9%, mainly due to lower output in Italy and Germany, and despite a significant climb in Poland.

All the data for March 2015 and for a number of prior years can be found in the Nerds spreadsheet below.

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Based on reported import licenses, US long products imports climbed 45% from 446,000 short tons in February to 648,000 tons in March. Long products imports in March 2014 were 410,000 tons and in March 2013 they were 310,000 tons. Long products imports for the first quarter of 2015 were 30% higher than in the same period last year.

The rise in March was mainly due to higher rebar imports which rose significantly from Turkey and to a lesser extent from Japan.

I will update the chart below to show mid-April licenses when the figures are published the week of April 20th.

SIMA US long products imports licenses and import actuals
2012 to 2015

short tons

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Based on reported import licenses, US flat products imports rose 2% from 1,254,000 short tons in February to 1,281,000 tons in March. Flat products imports in March 2014 were 1,001,000 tons and in March 2013 they were 652,000 tons. Based on March licenses and February and January actuals, flats imports for the first quarter of 2015 were 39% higher than in the same period last year.

Imports of hot rolled and hot dip galvanized steel rose while cold rolled and cut plate imports fell. Hot rolled imports increased significantly from Korea, Turkey, India, and South Africa while hot dip galvanized imports rose from a number of countries including Korea and India, and despite much lower imports from China. Cold rolled imports also fell from China while cut plate imports fell mainly from France, Germany and Italy.

I will update the chart below to show mid-April licenses when the figures are published the week of 20 April.

SIMA US imports licenses and actuals, flat products
March 2012 to March 2015

short tons

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