Double-Digit Increases for Service Center Shipments

March steel, aluminum shipments and inventories show notable improvement

The Metals Service Center Institute reports that March 2010 North American shipments of steel and aluminum products increased at double-digit rates from 2009 year-ago rates, while the centers’ inventories of both metals increased.

In the U.S., service centers’ steel shipments during March amounted to 3.21 million tons, an increase of 24.0% over March 2009. For the first quarter of 2010, U.S. service centers’ steel shipments totaled 8.45 million tons, increasing by 11.2% over Q1 2009 shipments.

As March ended, steel inventories reported by U.S. centers were 6.49 million tons, 17.2% less than the March 2009 inventory report, and equal to a 2.0 month supply at current shipping rates. MSCI characterized that figure as “unusually low.”

Canadian service centers March steel shipments amounted to 516,400 tons, 15.9% more than in March 2009. Q1 shipments of steel from Canadian centers were 1.41 million tons, 13.6% above the comparable period of 2009.

Inventories at Canadian centers were reported to be 1.36 million tons as March ended, 16.4% above inventories the year earlier and equal to a 2.6-month supply at current shipping rates.

As for aluminum, U.S. service center shipments in March totaled 107,900 tons, 23.7% more than in March 2009. Total first-quarter shipments of aluminum from U.S. centers were 291,500 tons, 11.5% over Q1 2009 shipment totals.

U.S. aluminum inventories were reported to be 273,600 tons, 15.1% less than the March 2009 inventory total. At current shipping rates, that total is equal to a 2.5-month supply.

Canadian service center’s aluminum shipments for March amounted to 12,600 tons, 13.6% more than in March 2009. Those centers’ Q1 shipments were 33,500 tons, 1.8% more than for January-March 2009. Aluminum inventories in Canada are down to 30,700 tons, 4.0% below the March 2009 report and equal to a 2.4-month supply at current shipping rates.

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