Metal Shipments Rise Significantly in January

Inventory levels suggest stockpiling of steel, aluminum at service centers

North American metals service centers’ shipments of steel and aluminum rose sharply in January, according to data in the Metals Service Center Institute’s monthly Metals Activity Report.

Notably, both U.S. and Canadian centers’ month-end inventory totals also rose for steel and aluminum from the December 2010 volumes, suggesting some effort at inventory building. However, given the increase in shipment rates for the month the inventory estimates indicate shorter supplies.

The monthly report is based on actual shipment and inventory data supplied by metals service centers in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. service centers shipped 3.42 million tons of steel in January, an increase of 21.2% over the 2.82 million tons shipped in December 2010, and of 32.5% over the 2.57 million tons shipped in January 2010. U.S. centers held steel inventories totaling 8.03 million tons at the end of January, 28.3% more than were in stock at the end of January 2010, and equal to a 2.4-month supply at current shipping levels.

Canadian service centers had January steel shipments totaling 545,100 tons, 43.1% more than the 380,800 tons shipped in December 2010, and 22.7% more than the 444,400 tons shipped in the first month of 2010. Steel inventories at the Canadian service centers were reported to at 1.48 million tons, 25.1% more than the January 2010 stockpile and equal to a 2.7-month supply.

As for aluminum, U.S. service centers shipped 121,400 tons in January, 21% above the December 2010 shipping total of 100,300, and 29.7% above the January 2010 shipments o 93,600. Aluminum inventories at U.S. centers were reported to be 352,900 tons at month’s end, or 38.7% more than at the end of January 2010 and equal to a 2.9-month supply at the current shipping rate.

In Canada, metals centers shipped 12,000 tons of aluminum in January, 33.3% more than the 9,000 tons they shipped in December 2010 and 13.4% than the 10,600 tons shipped in January 2010. Their aluminum inventories at the end of January totaled 31,600 tons, 4.0% more than the January 2010 stockpile, and equal to a 2.6-month supply at the current shipping rate.

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