July import data
As discussed previously, US steel imports have now fallen on a yearly basis for four consecutive months. However, if you are an investor in steel companies like Steel Dynamics (STLD), Timken Steel (TMST), and ArcelorMittal (MT) you should also look at the breakup of steel import data.
Imports have fallen across major product categories
A closer look at the July steel import data, which was released on August 25 by the US Census Bureau, shows some positive numbers. For instance, imports of hot rolled and cold rolled sheets have come down in July as compared to last year. Imports have also fallen as compared to June, as can be seen in the chart above.
Reduced imports from Russia are also a possible reason for the fall in hot rolled coil imports. Last year, the United States scrapped a 15-year-old preferential trade treaty with Russia. This treaty exempted Russian hot rolled coil (or HRC) from anti-dumping duties. HRC imports from Russia increased multifold last year.
Imports have risen for some steel products
Steel imports have risen across several key categories. Imports of reinforcing bars (or rebars), which are used in the construction industry, have more than tripled in July on a year-over-year (or YoY) basis. Steel demand from the construction industry has been strong, as we discussed in part two of this series.
With steel imports having fallen for four months now, have the US steel industry’s prospects improved? We’ll explore this in the next part of this series.