North American steel market trends
US steel product consumption decreased by 4.2% to 91.2 million tonnes in 2016, down from 95.1 million tonnes in 2015. Demand fell by 2.4% for long products, 1.6% for flat products and 30.2% for tubular products. Despite fairly strong large-diameter pipe (LDP) market fundamentals during the reporting period, demand fell to 1.1 million tonnes from 1.5 million tonnes in 2015 due to pipeline project delays. Amid low oil prices, the oil country tubular goods (OCTG) market bottomed out in 2016 with Canadian consumption estimated at 0.5 million tonnes. North America consumed 1.1 million tonnes of rails in 2016, a 24% decline from 2015 levels, amid reduced CAPEX spending at Class-I railroads due to weak energy E&P activity and lower coal shipments. Demand for wire rod and plate was stable.
Finished steel product imports, which significantly influenced the US steel industry in 2015, dropped by 16% year-on-year to 23 million tonnes in 2016 amid anti-dumping duties and pending trade cases against certain producers.
Despite efforts to promote healthy competition and eliminate import dumping activity, weak North American demand undermined local steel prices. Prices dropped in 2016 by 2% to US$599 per tonne for flat products, by 9% to US$586 per tonne for rebar, and by 22% to US$881 per tonne for OCTG.