US Steel imports declined 13.9% in December compared to November according to preliminary government data but still remained up on the full year.

David Phelps, president, AIIS commented: “Imports plummeted in December compared to November as many buyers backed out of the market when these products were ordered and instead minimized inventory as the end of the year approached. Steel buyers, like many in manufacturing in other sectors, also reacted cautiously as the so-called fiscal cliff approached at the end of the year. It is likely that import arrivals will remain at lower levels for some months due to the uncertainty caused by the fiscal cliff,”

For the full year, steel imports increased 16.9% in 2012 compared to 2011 based on the preliminary December import data. Conditions in the auto, oil and gas as well as durable goods markets continued to improve in 2012 and the improvement was reflected in the healthier import numbers for the year. A 14.5% increase in semi finished steel imports used by the domestic steel industry underscores the improvement in market conditions in 2012. However, the still-struggling non-residential construction market remains weak and as a result both domestic industry shipments and imports remain below robust levels, commented Phelps.

Total steel imports in December 2012 were 2.338M stons compared to 2.716M stons in November 2012, a 13.9% decrease, but a 13.3% increase compared to December 2011. For the full year, total imports increased from 28.515M stons in 2011 to 33.347M stons in 2012, a 16.9% increase. The data show that imported semi finished products increased by 40.6% in December 2012 compared to December 2011, from 487k stons in 2011 to 685k stons in 2012 and for the full year from 6.681Mstons in 2011 to 7.648Mstons in 2012.