Based on reported import licenses, US long products imports rose 59% from 298,000 short tons in February to 475,000 tons in March. Imports from all long products categories increased, but the overall rise was mainly due to higher rebar and wire rod imports.

Rebar imports have been volatile since December 2013 due mostly to volume changes from Turkey, and this was definitely the case in March, where import licenses for Turkey rose by over 100,000 tons. Wire rod imports rose in March due to higher volumes from China.

Long products import licenses as reported April 15th were 269,000 tons, which is likely to mean that full-month April imports will be higher than March’s.

SIMA US import licenses and import actuals long products 2012-2014

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In its latest Short Range Outlook, published April 9th, Worldsteel revised its world apparent steel use growth forecast for 2014 downward. The revision decreased estimated world steel consumption growth between 2013 and 2014 from 3.3% in its October Short Range Outlook to 3.0% in the recent published figures. In addition, Worldsteel expects apparent world steel use to increase by 3.3% between 2014 and 2015 to reach 1,577 million metric tonnes.

Worldsteel’s October estimate that Chinese apparent steel use will grow by 3.0% between 2013 and 2014 has remained the same. There were a couple of notable growth forecast upward revisions. European Union consumption between 2013 and 2014 is now expected to grow by 3.1% instead of 2.2% and NAFTA consumption was also revised upward from 3.0% growth to 3.9% growth. However, the consumption rate in the rest of the world excluding China was revised downward from 3.6% between 2013 and 2014 to 3.1%. Of particular note, the CIS region consumption was revised down from 3.4% in the October Outlook to 0.8% in the current bulletin.

See the spreadsheet below for Worldsteel 2015 growth estimates together with all the Worldsteel Short Range Outlook figures over the last few years.

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Based on reported import licenses, US flat products imports climbed 4% from 982,000 short tons in February to 1,025,000 tons in March. This is the highest level of flat products imports registered since Nerds began collecting the data in September, 2008. In addition, March imports were 57% higher than in March last year.

The 4% increase was mainly due to higher cold roll and cut plate imports. Cold roll imports increased from countries including Canada and China while cut plate imports increased mainly from Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Turkey.

I will update the chart below to show mid-April license data when the numbers are published next week.

SIMA US Import Licenses and Actuals, Flat Products
short tons
*October 2013 licenses incomplete due to US government shutdown

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China crude steel production was 62.1 million metric tonnes in February, 0.4% higher than in February 2013. In addition, January production figures for China were revised from 61.6 million tonnes (as reported in my earlier post) to 68.7 million tonnes, which brings the January-to-February 2014 output change to -9.7%. However, due to the shorter month of February, average daily output remained flat compared to January 2014 at 2.2 million tonnes.

China’s net finished steel exports in February were 3.82 million tonnes, 14% higher than in February 2013 but lower than in January 2014 by 30%.

China Monthly Crude Steel Production February 2004 to February 2014
(thousand metric tonnes)

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Worldsteel published February’s global crude steel production on March 20th. World crude steel production was 125.0 million metric tonnes, 8.6% lower than in January but 0.6% higher than in February 2013.

China’s production accounted for 50% of total world production in February showing a 9.7% drop month-on-month from January and a 0.4% increase between February 2013. Other significant changes in Asia were a 6% production increase in South Korea February-to-February and a 3% drop in India. In addition, production in the European Union increased by 5% during the same period, due to increases mainly in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain, but US output was down 2%.

All the data for February 2014 and for a number of prior years can be viewed in the Nerds spreadsheet below.

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Based on reported import licenses, US long products imports fell 31% from 437,000 short tons in January to 300,000 tons in February. The drop was mainly due to a sharp fall in rebar licenses, mainly from Turkey, but also from Spain. Wire rod licenses also contributed to the drop, particularly due to lower volume from China.

You may have noticed changes in our wire rod figures. This is due to the US International Trade Commission revision of HTS codes that belong in the wire rod product category. Further adjustments may be required to maintain a consistent and accurate series, so please bear with us.


SIMA US Import Licenses and Actuals, 2012-2014

short tons
*Oct 2013 licenses are incomplete due to US government shutdown

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Based on reported import licenses, US flat products imports rose 3% from 921,000 short tons in January to 952,000 tons in February. February flat products imports in 2013 were 674,000 tons, in 2012 720,000 tons, in 2011 440,000 tons, and in 2010 444,000 tons.

The 3% increase was mainly due to higher cut plate imports from a number of countries including Germany, France, South Africa, and Italy. Hot roll, cold roll, and hot dip galvanized imports fell by between 1 and 3% compared to January.

I will update the chart below to show mid-March license data when the numbers are published next week. To download all the data, just click on the Excel icon at the bottom right of the chart.

SIMA US Import Licenses and Actuals, Flat Products
short tons
*October 2013 licenses incomplete due to US government shutdown

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China crude steel production was 61.6 million metric tonnes in January, 3% lower than in January 2013. January was the 4th month in a row of lower average daily production, having dropped 3.7% in October, 3.3% in November, 0.9% in December, and a further 1.3% in January to reach an average 1.99 million tonnes of production per day.

In addition, Chinese net finished steel exports in January were 5.42 million tonnes, 42% higher than in January 2013. Net exports as a share of crude steel production in China reached 9%, the highest level since we started posting results in January 2012 and 3% higher than the average of the last 2 years.

China Monthly Crude Steel Production January 2004 to January 2014
(thousand metric tonnes)

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