Service Center Shipments Slip from March to April

Steel, aluminum still outpacing 2009; inventories climbing

North America’s metal service centers managed to maintain their Q1 “momentum” into April, according to the Metals Service Center Institute, pointing to a continued strong year-on-year increase for shipments. However, the monthly volume of shipments of steel and aluminum declined from March 2010 to April, in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. metals service centers shipped 3.0 million tons of steel in April 2010, or 22.3% more than during April 2009. Year-to-date shipments now total about 11.5 million tons, or 13.9% more than during the first four months of 2009. However, those same U.S. centers’ total shipments dropped 6.4%, from 3.2 million tons, during March 2010.

Steel inventories at U.S. service centers totaled 6.7 million tons as April ended, roughly 5.6% below April 2009 inventory levels. At the current shipping rates, the total is equal to a 2.2-month supply.

In Canada, service centers’ April steel shipments totaled 492,600 tons, 9.2% higher than in April 2009. It raised year-to-date shipments to about 1.9 million tons, an increase of 12.5% above the January-April 2009 period. Similar to the U.S. results, Canada’s centers’ April shipments were down 4.6% from March’s 516,400 tons of steel shipped.

Canadian centers’ steel inventories are reported to total 1.4 million tons, 17.1% higher than recorded for April 2009, and equal to a 2.8-month supply at current shipping rates.

Shipments of aluminum products from U.S. metals service centers amounted to 103,800 tons in April, 13.6% higher than in April 2009 month. January-April 2010 aluminum shipments amount to 395,300 tons, a 12% improvement over the first four months of 2009. The April total represented a 3.8% decline from the 107,900 tons shipped during March 2010.

As for aluminum inventories, U.S. service centers report a total of 280,500 tons in stock at the end of April, or 6.0% less than the held in stock last April. The total is equal to a 2.7-month supply at current shipping rates.

Canadian centers’ April aluminum shipments totaled 11,300 tons, 3.0% more than were shipped in April 2009. The year-to-date total is 44,800 tons, a 2.1% increase from the January-April 2009 period. April aluminum shipments declined 10.3% from the March total of 12,600 tons.

Aluminum inventories at Canada’s service centers are reported at 32,100 tons, 3.2% higher than the volume in stock at the end of April 2009, and representing a 2.8-month supply at the current shipping rate.

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