April 2 - US steel imports in February 2014 increased by 1.4 percent over January 2014, and surged 29.6 percent over February 2013 levels, according to data released by the U.S Government.

"Improved pricing at the end of 2013 and improved demand compared to the weak start to 2013 have created opportunities for importers, and imports have been arriving at more healthy levels so far in 2014," explained Richard Chriss, executive director, American Institute for International Steel, Inc (AIIS).

Total steel imports in February 2014 were 3.25 million tonnes compared to 3.2 million tonnes in January 2014. Year-to -date, steel imports increased from 5.125 million tonnes in the first two months of 2013 to 6.455 million tonnes in the same 2014 period - a 25.9 percent increase.

Semi-finished steel product imports totalled 763,000 tonnes in February 2014, a year-on-year improvement of 22.7 percent.

Chriss continued: "AIIS trading company members as well as all of our members who provide port-related and other logistics services have benefitted from the healthy start to this year.

"As we approach the seasonally strong second quarter, the beginning of the construction season, and the end of winter weather-related complications, we are optimistic about 2014 at this point. Recent positives include price announcements coming from domestic mills that suggest that market conditions remain positive. Whether it can be sustained remains of course an open question this early in the year, and is dependent on factors such as the direction of the critical non-residential construction market in 2014."