Cold finished steel bar inventory
Service centers’ shipment and inventory volumes offer insight to the current state of manufacturing activity in North America. Both indexes constitute to a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.

Service Centers’ Metal Shipments Show Signs of Slowing

Steel and aluminum deliveries increased year-over-year during July, but the daily shipping rates declined from June with corresponding increases in inventory volumes

Shipments of steel and aluminum products by metals service centers increased year-over-year across North America during July, according to the latest release of the Metals Service Center Institute’s Metal Activity Report. MSCI described the new totals as evidence that “metals shipments continued the modest growth path established in May and June.”

However, the same report showed some notable month-to-month declines in service center shipments, with corresponding drops from the daily shipping rates and increases in inventories reported for June.

The Metals Activity Report includes shipment and inventory totals for service centers in the U.S. and Canada. Both indexes offer insight to the current state of manufacturing activity, as aluminum and steel shipped by service centers constitute to a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.

U.S. service centers shipped 2.96 million tons of steel products during July, 13.5% less than during June but 1.4% more than during July 2016. The daily shipping rate declined 4.9% from the previous month, about 7.6 tons/day less than in June.

The latest month’s activity drove the year-to-date total for U.S. service centers’ steel shipments to 23.05 million tons, which is 3.3% higher than the seven-month total for 2016.

Inventories of steel products at U.S. centers increased by 3.86% from June to 7.54 million tons, but that level remains 3.9% below the July inventory total. At their current shipping rate, U.S. centers are estimated to be holding a 2.5-month supply of steel products.

Canadian service centers shipped 346,500 tons of steel products during July, 11.7% less than during June but 8.7% more than during July 2016. The daily shipping rate decline about 0.5 tons/day from June, and year-to-date shipments rose to 2.7 million tons. That total is 3.1% higher than last year’s comparable seven-month total.

The Canadian centers’ steel inventories increased 3.1%, month over month to 1.17 million tons at the close of July. That indicates a 6.6% increase over last July’s inventory level, and at their current shipping rate Canada’s service centers are estimated to be holding a 3.4-month supply of steel products.

Aluminum products shipments by U.S. service centers totaled 123,500 tons during July, 16.2% less than in June and 4.8% more than during July 2016. The daily shipping rate declined about 0.5 tons/day from June to July, as the year-to-date shipments rose to 956,300 tons through seven months of 2017. That total is 6.8% higher than the January-July 2016 total.

U.S. centers’ aluminum inventories rose 2.2% from June to July, finishing the most recent month at 400,600 tons. That is 1.3% above the July 2016 inventory level, and indicates that U.S. service centers have a 3.2-month supply of aluminum in stock.

Canadian service centers shipped 9,600 tons of aluminum products during July, 8.6% less than during June and 9.1% more than during July 2016. The daily shipping rate remained unchanged at 0.5 tons/day — apparently the same daily shipping rate that Canadian centers reported for seven consecutive months. Their seven-month shipment total is 72,300 tons, essentially even (+0.1%) with the January-July 2016 total.

Inventories for aluminum products also remained fairly steady for Canadian service centers at 30,600 tons, 0.7% over June inventories but 2.1% lower than July 2016 inventories. MSCI estimated that Canadian centers are holding a 3.2-month supply of aluminum products.

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