Falling slab and oil country tubular goods (OCTG) imports drove US steel imports down by more than a third in February to levels not seen since 2009.
Preliminary figures for total steel imports into the US fell by 38pc to 1.36mn metric tonnes (t) in February, according to data from the US Department of Commerce. The month of February 2020 had an extra day due to the leap year. The daily rate of 47,000t was down by 40pc compared to the daily rate for the prior year.
The monthly total was the lowest since December 2009, when imports were at 1.28mn t as the US economy was beginning to recover from the recession, which began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.
The decline in imports was led by falling blooms and slab imports, which declined by 77pc to 144,000t in February compared to the prior year.
OCTG imports fell by 56pc to 77,000t, while imports of line pipe greater that 16 inches in diameter fell by 83pc to 21,000t.
While it is unclear what impact the coronavirus pandemic had on imports into the US in February - before the virus spread had widely surfaced outside of Asia - license data for March shows a significant drop in the licenses issued to importers by the US government in order for them to import steel.
Through 17 March, licenses for importing steel into the US were at 1.08mn t - down by nearly half compared to the 2.06mn t of steel imported in March 2019.