Service Center Shipments Drop from April to May, Still Strong Y-on-Y

U.S. and Canadian aluminum and steel inventories are flat

Steel and aluminum service centers across the U.S. and Canada increased their shipment volumes markedly during May, against the year-ago levels, though the latest figures indicate some slackening of recent strong demand for both metals. The data is contained in the Metals Service Center Institute’s Monthly Activity Report, based on shipment and inventory data supplied by service centers.

MSCI said May service center inventories were flat or rose during May.

For steel products, May shipments from U.S. metals service centers totaled 2.92 million tons, a 29.4% increase over May 2009 shipments. However, the latest figure marks 2.97% decline from the April 2010 shipment total. For the first five months of 2010, service center steel shipments were 14.4 million tons, 16.7% more than the January-May 2009 steel shipments total.

U.S. centers’ steel inventories at the end of May totaled about 7.0 million tons, 7.8% more than at the comparable point in 2009. At current shipping rates, MSCI estimates the U.S. service centers have a 2.4-month supply of steel.

Canadian service centers’ May steel shipments totaled 463,000 tons, 24.8% reversal from the April 2010 shipment total, but a 23.3% increase from May 2009. Year-to-date steel shipments in Canada total 2.36 million tons, or 14.4% more than during January-May 2009.

Steel inventories at Canadian service centers totaled 1.39 million tons, or 23.9% more than in May 2010. At current shipping rates, MSCI projects that the Canadian centers have a 3.0-month supply.

As for aluminum products, U.S. service centers shipped 97,000 tons of it during May, a drop of 6.5% from the April and the third straight month that aluminum shipments declined. However, the total was 18.3% more than the April 2009 shipments.

For the first five months of 2010, the centers have shipped a total of 492,300 tons of aluminum, 13.2% more than were shipped during January-May 2009.

As May ended, U.S. centers’ aluminum inventories totaled 280,400 tons, 0.7% less than were held at the end of May 2009. At current shipping rates, the inventories represented a 2.9-month supply of aluminum.

Canadian metals service center shipped 11,200 tons of aluminum products during May, 11.6% more than were shipped in May 2009. The May total was only a slight drop-off, down 0.88%, from the April shipment volume.

For the year to date, the Canadian centers have shipped 56,000 tons, up 3.9% from the same period last year.

At the end of May, Canadian centers’ total aluminum inventories were 32,800 tons, 6.0% more than were held at the end of May 2009, and equal to a 2.9-month supply current shipping rates.

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