Steel imports declined 14% in June compared to May according to preliminary government reporting. The decline in imports from May of semifinished steel represented half of the total month to month decline in June over the final import data for May.

The June data reflect import ordering -- both by the domestic mills and trading companies -- during the late first and early second quarter when the steel market was softening, says David Phelps, president, AIIS.

For the first half of 2013 compared to the same 2012 period, steel imports were down by nearly 11%. Imports continue to be negatively affected by weak demand in most products and market sectors, reflecting the overall weakness of the economy and steel intensive sectors as well as the reticence of many consumers to add to inventory levels given overall concerns about the direction of the economy − with the notable exception of auto-related shipments of steel, which of course are dominated by the domestic mills. “Recent announced price increases provide some optimism, but it is unclear at this point whether the improvement in conditions is due primarily to consumers and distributors restocking, which of course would suggest that the improvement would be short-lived,” concluded Phelps.

Total Steel imports in June 2013 were 2.441M ston compared to 2.838M ston in May 2013, an 11% decrease, and a 13.4% decrease compared to June 2012. For the year- to - date, imports decreased from 17.632M stons in the first six months of 2012 to 15.713M stons in the same 2013 period, an 10.9% decrease.

Imported semifinished products decreased by 21.1% in June 2013 compared to June 2012, from 616k ston in 2012 to 486k ston in 2013, based on preliminary reporting. For Q1, imported semifinished products decreased from 4.027M ston in Q1 2012 to 3.363M stons in the same 2013 period, a 16.5% decrease.

In June 2013, the largest amount of imports arrived from Canada (462k ston) followed by the EU (424k ston), Mexico (359 kston) and S Korea (234 kston). Imports from China amounted to 153kston, down 17.6% on the month earlier.