US steel imports up 4.6% in January

US steel imports edged up 4.6% in January from the previous month on increased volumes of coated and energy goods, US Census Bureau data show.

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Preliminary steel imports totaled 2.34 million tonnes last month, up from December’s final figure of nearly 2.24 million tonnes but down 8.4% from a year earlier.

Major increases in carbon and alloy products included oil country tubular goods, which rebounded 56.9% to 259,206 tonnes after plunging 32.9% in December, while hot-dipped galvanized sheet jumped 47% to an eight-month high of 178,349 tonnes.

Decreases were registered for semi-finished material, which plunged 29.9% in January to 420,955 tonnes, while imports of plate in coil fell 47.6% to 63,038 tonnes.

“Based on import licenses through the first 26 days of February, we believe that February imports are likely to decline modestly from January,” Michelle Applebaum, managing partner of Chicago-based Steel Market Intelligence, said in a research note.

“Given rising global steel pricing trends and flat-to-down domestic long and flat-product prices in recent months, we expect imports to moderate through the next three months,” she added.

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