Service Centers End 2009 with Inventories Up, Shipments Down

U.S. steel shipments fell almost 37% for the year, aluminum down over 38%

The final monthly tally of North American metals service center activity for 2009 indicates that inventories of steel and aluminum products rose slightly in December, while shipments fell according to seasonal expectations. However, the Metals Service Center Institute said the monthly rate of decline for U.S. steel shipments fell to single digits for the first time in more than a year, and remained flat in Canada.

MSCI said U.S. service centers’ December steel shipments amounted to 2.24 million tons, a decline of just -5.5% compared to December 2008. Total 2009 steel product shipments were almost 29.6 million tons, a year-on-year decline of -36.8%.

U.S. centers’ year-end steel inventories were reported to be 6.14 million tons, down -29.0% versus the 2008 year-end total. At the current shipping rates, that inventory total is equal to a 2.7-month supply, according to MSCI.

In Canada, service center’s December steel shipments totaled 322,400 tons, a figure equal to the December 2008 volume. Total 2009 Canadian steel shipments fell -26.4% to 4.92 million tons.

At the end of December, Canadian service centers reported steel inventories totaling 1.04 million tons, or -10.5% below end-of-December 2008 inventories, and the equivalent of a 3.2-month supply.

As for aluminum, U.S. service centers shipped 79,100 tons of products in December, -16.5% below the December 2008 shipment total. For the full year, U.S. service center shipped aluminum 1.04 million tons of aluminum, -38.4% below their 2008 shipment total.

U.S. service centers reported aluminum inventories of 279,000 tons at the end of the year, -21.7% less than at the end of 2008. At their current shipping rates, they have a 3.5-month supply of aluminum products.

In Canada, service centers’ December aluminum shipments totaled 7,700 tons, or -20.1% below the December 2008 total. Canadian centers’ 12-month aluminum shipment total was 125,500 tons, a -24.2% decline from 2008.

As the year ended, Canadian service centers’ aluminum inventories were reported at 29,200 tons, -13.1% below the end of December 2008, and equal to a 3.8-month supply at the current shipping rate.

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