Steel bars close-up
Service-center shipments represent a substantial volume of steel and aluminum consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers in the U.S. and Canada.

Steel, Aluminum Shipments Showing Year-Over-Year Growth

Service centers’ shipment volumes declined from January to February in the U.S., Canada, but the year-over-year totals showed continuing expansion.

Total monthly shipment volumes for service center steel and aluminum products declined from January to February across the U.S. and Canada, but the year-over-year totals showed growth, and year-to-date totals increased for steel product shipments. Inventory levels decreased very slightly for steel products.

Declines from the January totals may be partly attributable to fewer business hours during February.

These results were reported by the Metals Service Center Institute in its latest Metals Activity Report, which documents 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 3.29 million tons of steel products during February 2018, 5.6% less than the January total but 5.2% more than the February 2017 total. The February daily shipping rate was 6,000 tons higher than during January, at 164,400 tons/day. Through two months of activity, U.S. service centers have shipped 6.77 million tons of steel products, 4.7% higher than the January-February 2017 shipment total.

Steel-product inventories increased only slightly (0.08%) from January to 7.74 million tons at U.S. service centers, but declined 5.4% from February 2017 levels. At their current shipping rate, MSCI estimated that U.S. service centers are holding a 2.4-month supply of steel products.

Canadian service centers shipped 383,300 tons of steel products during February, 6.5% less than during January but 4.8% more than during February 2017. The daily shipping rate rose by 600 tons from January to 19,200 tons/day during February, and the year-to-date shipments rose to 793,400 tons, 2.1% higher than the comparable two-month total for 2017.

Inventories of steel products at Canadian centers declined 0.4% from January to 1.15 million tons, 1.9% less than the February 2017 inventory total. MSCI estimated that Canadian service centers are holding a 3.0-month supply steel products, at their current shipping rate.

Aluminum products shipments from U.S. service centers total 142,200 tons during February, 5.3% less than during January but 11.6% higher than during February 2017. The daily shipping rate rose by 300 tons from January to 7,100 tons/day. The two-month total for aluminum products shipments rose to 292,300 tons through February, which is 12.2% higher than the January-February 2017 total.

U.S. centers’ aluminum products inventories rose 1.15% from January to 412,600 tons for February, which is 6.5% higher than the February 2017 inventory level. At their current shipping rate, U.S. service centers are estimated to be holding a 2.9-month inventory of aluminum products.

Canadian service centers shipped 9,300 tons of aluminum products during February, 12.3% less than during January and 0.6% more than during February 2017. The daily shipping rate remained unchanged from January, 500 tons/day. The year-to-date shipments nearly doubled from January, now standing at 20,000 tons. That figure is 0.7% less than the cumulative total at the same time in 2017.

Inventories of aluminum products at Canadian service centers remained unchanged from January, 31,700 tons. That figure is 0.2% higher than the inventory total for February 2017. At the current shipping rate, Canadian service centers are estimated to be holding a 3.4-month supply of aluminum products.

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