steel bars in storage racks
MSCI’s Metals Activity Report is a monthly record of service-center steel and aluminum shipment and inventory totals in the U.S. and Canada. Service center shipments represent a substantial volume of metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.

Service Centers’ Steel, Aluminum Shipments Rose in January

Solid results for U.S. centers, but a slower start in Canada; inventories mostly even

Shipments of service center steel and aluminum products rebounded well in January, according to the Metals Service Center Institute’s latest report. At the same time, inventory levels for both steel and products remained fairly steady. However, while the year-over-year shipment rates were positive for U.S. service centers, Canadian centers reported decreases in shipment volumes for both metals.

MSCI’s Metals Activity Report is a monthly record of service-center steel and aluminum shipment and inventory totals, as reported by its member companies. Service center metal products represent a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.

U.S. service centers shipped 3.48 million tons of steel products during January 2018, 31.1% more than in December 2017 and 4.3% more than in January 2017. The daily shipping rate rose by over 25,000 tons to 158,400 tons/day.

Inventories of steel products at the end of January were reported to be 7.73 million tons, slightly higher (0.3%) than for December and 6.0% higher than at the end of January 2016. At the U.S. centers’ current shipping rate, MSCI is estimated to be holding a 2.2-month supply of steel products.

Canada’s service centers shipped 410,100 tons of steel products during January, 46.4% higher than the December total but 0.4% less than the January 2017 total. The daily shipping rate increased by 3,900 tons from December, to 18,600 tons/day.

Steel product inventories at Canadian centers ticked up 1.7% from December to 1.15 million tons, which is 2.1% less than the January 2017 inventory level. MSCI estimated the current volume as a 2.6-month supply.

Aluminum products shipments by U.S. service centers increased 25.7% from December to January, totaling 150,100 tons in the latest report. This represents a 12.7% increase the January 2017 total. The daily shipping rate rose by 800 tons from December to 6,800 tons/day.

U.S. centers finished January with 407,900 tons of aluminum products in inventory, 1.0% higher than the December level and 5.5% higher than the January 2017 level. At the current shipping rate, MSCI estimated that U.S. service centers have a 2.7-month supply of aluminum products in inventory.

Canadian service centers shipped 45,200 tons of aluminum products during January 2018, 45.2% more than during December but 1.9% less than during January 2017. The daily shipping rate resumed a fairly regular pace of 500 tons/day, up from 400 tons/day in the previous month.

Inventories of aluminum products at Canadian service centers dipped slightly (-0.6%) from December, which is 3.4% over the January 2017 inventory level. The current inventory total is estimated as a 3.0-month supply.

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