Metal Service Center Shipments Rebounded in August

Steel, aluminum moving at a better rate, though inventory levels remain

The volumes of steel and aluminum shipped by North American service centers grew in August, according to the Metals Service Center Institute’s monthly Metals Activity Report, and inventory levels for both metals changed only slightly.

Shipments of steel from U.S. service centers totaled 3,198,100 tons during August, a rise of 3.7% over the 2,866,700 tons shipped in July, and 25.5% more than the 2,504,100 tons shipped in July of 2009.

For the year to date, U.S. service centers have shipped 23,654,600 tons of steel, 19.3% higher than during the period of January-August 2009. As August ended, U.S. centers reported steel inventories of 7.4 million tons, 32.4% more than were held in stock during August 2009. MSCI estimates that at the current shipping rate that inventory represents a 2.3-month supply.

Canadian metal centers shipped 489,600 tons of steel in August, a 16% improvement over 421,900 tons shipped in July and 17.8% more than were shipped during August 2009.

For the year to date, Canada’s service centers have shipped 3,789,600 tons of steel, 15.5% more than were shipped in the comparable period of 2009. Canadian centers reported steel inventories totaling 1.3 million tons as August ended, 33.8% above the end-of-August 2009 total and estimated to be a 2.6-month supply at current shipping rates.

As for aluminum, U.S. service centers shipped 126,600 tons during August, 6.8% more than the 118,000 tons shipped during July, and 47.6% more than the 85,800 tons shipped in August 2009.

For the first eight months of 2010, the total U.S. aluminum shipments of 860,400 tons are 22.9% ahead of shipments over the comparable period of 2009. Aluminum stockpiles at metals service centers totaled 322,300 tons at the end of August, 23.4% larger than a year ago and equal to a 2.5-month supply at current shipping rates.

In Canada, 11,300 tons of aluminum were shipped in August, up 12.3% from the 9,900 tons that were shipped in July, and up 11.3% from the 10,200 tons shipped in August 2009.

For the January-August 2010, Canadian centers’ aluminum shipments stand at 89,800 tons, a rise of 5.6% from the comparable total for 2009. As of the end of August, aluminum inventories amount to 31,700 tons at Canadian service centers, 7.5% more than a year ago and equal to a 2.8-month supply at current shipping rates.

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