By Paul Ploumis (ScrapMonster Author)
June 27, 2016 04:47:08 PM
Steel imports surged in May, though they remained well below the level of a year earlier, according to preliminary data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
May imports totaled 2.79 million net tons, 12.1 percent more than in April but 18 percent less than in May 2015.
Imports from Canada were up 11.7 percent from April and 6.3 percent from the previous May at 507,000 net tons, while imports from Mexico recorded respective increases of 18.1 percent and 11.7 percent at 247,000 net tons. Imports from the European Union increased 2.4 percent in May to 375,000 net tons (down almost 40 percent from May 2015), imports from South Korea expanded by 3.4 percent to 352,000 net tons (down 1.3 percent from a year earlier), and imports from Russia jumped 270 percent to 300,000 net tons (more than double the amount from the preceding May). Brazil was the only major trading partner that recorded a month-to-month decrease, with imports from that country dipping 1.5 percent to 400,000 net tons, a 21.6 percent drop from May of last year.
Compared to the first five months of 2015, year-to-date steel imports fell 31.3 percent to 12.79 million net tons. Imports from South Korea, the European Union, Japan and Brazil were all down more than 30 percent, while imports from Canada dipped 2.8 percent and imports from Mexico slipped 2.2 percent.
Semifinished imports in May increased almost 10 percent from a year earlier to 709,000 net tons. Year-to-date, though, they decreased 31.6 percent to 2.22 million net tons.
Monthly steel imports have fluctuated widely this year, with double-digit increases in January, March and May, a big drop in February and another decline in April. Given that steel imports are related to the performance of the overall economy, which itself has been inconsistent,unpredictable, and often sub-par, this is hardly a surprise. But imports have increased 163 percent since February and are not as far behind 2015 levels now as they were back then. This could be a positive sign for economic growth, though it will take a few more months of significant increases to boost confidence in that possibility.