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Steel Imports Rise

Posted 2:59 PM by

According to preliminary data issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, hot-rolled steel imports in July increased 43% over June levels to 297,157 metric tons. This hot-rolled figure is the highest monthly import total for hot-rolled steel since the pre-recessionary days of November 2006.

Imports of cold-rolled steel also rose 7% to 130,177 metric tons compared to June. On a year-to-date basis, hot-rolled and cold-rolled imports combined are up 22%. While overall steel imports declined 4% in July over June, falling to 2,344,441 metric tons, this import level is up 22% on a year-to-date comparison to 2010.

Steel demand metrics are often used as indicators of confidence held by metalworking manufacturers in short-term future economic conditions. Following a period earlier this year of tightening domestic steel supply, we wonder how well the statistic actually speaks to the true nature how metalworkers view their near-term economic risk. And, we must normalize such demand changes with the marginal strengthening of the U.S. dollar over steel exporting currencies. Confidence surveys continue to underline the lingering uncertainty that plagues this recovery.

The hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel indicators shared good news, but it must be taken carefully and in context.

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