Preliminary import data by the Department of Commerce reported that US steel imports in July declined by 8.4% compared to the final data for June.

“The data revisions from preliminary to final import data for some recent months have not been insignificant, but the downward trend continued in July based on the preliminary data. The downward trend in imports reflects weakened market conditions earlier in the second quarter for non-NAFTA arrivals and is consistent with the trends predicted in the AIIS Monthly Importer Survey,” said David Phelps, president, AIIS.

For the year to date in 2012 compared to 2011, imports increased by 17.1% and were down 1.5% for July 2012 compared to July 2011. “The year to date arrivals in 2012 remain above 2011 so far this year, but weakness in the steel market at mid-year slowed import ordering, especially from off-shore sources. While conditions for imports are currently improving for some products, the weaker market conditions are likely to depress arrivals for a couple of months until the improved market conditions we are currently experiencing work their way through the supply chain. The AIIS Monthly Importer Survey is beginning to show some positives for ordering, but the trends at this point are still tentative,” concluded Phelps.

Total Steel imports in July 2012 were 2.582 million short tons (Mston) compared to 2.820Mstons in June 2012, an 8.4% decrease, and a 1.5% decrease compared to July 2011. For the year-to-date period, total imports increased from 17.266Mstons in the first seven months of 2011 to 20.214Mstons in the same period 2012, a 17.1% increase. The data show that imported semifinished products increased by 5.4% in July 2012 compared to July 2011, from 526kstons in 2011 to 554kstons in 2012 and for the year to date period increased from 4.078Mstons to 4.581Mstons.