Listless June for Service Centers’ Steel, Aluminum Shipments

North America’s metals service centers, which have struggled to achieve steady growth for monthly shipping volumes of steel and aluminum products over the past 12 months, slid through June with generally flat delivery levels. The six-month results for 2012 have been modestly positive, though the recent month’s shipments show a sharp decline in activity. Just as confounding, months of listless steel and aluminum prices have done little to trim inventory volumes.

The shipping and inventory data is included in the Metals Service Center Institute’s Monthly Activities Report, which is based on actual data provided by participating service centers in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. service centers’ June 2012 steel shipments totaled 3,511,200 tons, a drop of 8.6% from May (3,842,200 tons), and a decrease of 1.9% from June 2011 (3,579,500 tons.) Through the first six months of this year, service centers’ steel shipments have amounted to 22,089,200 tons, a rise of 5.9% over the comparable period of 2011.

As for inventories, U.S. service centers reported 9,020,300 tons of steel in stock at the close of June 2012, a 0.67% decrease from the May inventory total (9,080,300 tons) but an increase of 13.6% over the June 2011 inventory level (7,936,900 tons.)

At the current shipping rate, U.S. service centers have steel inventories equaling 2.6 months of supply, an increase of 15.9% over the 2011 total at the comparable time.

June aluminum shipments from U.S. service centers totaled 128,900 tons, down 5.3% from May (136,100 tons) and down 4.0% from June 2011 (134,300 tons.) January-June 2012 service center aluminum shipments have totaled 793,100 tons, a 3.9% rise over the total for the first six months of 2011.

U.S. centers’ aluminum inventories stand at 376,900 tons at midyear 2012, slipping 2.3% from the May volume (385,700 tons), but rising 7.3% over the June 2011 inventory total (351,200 tons.)

At the current shipping rate for aluminum products, U.S. service centers have the equivalent of a 2.9-month supply in inventory, an 11.9% increase from June 2011.

In Canada, service centers’ steel shipments totaled 531,200 tons in June, a drop of 7.3% from the May shipment total (573,100 tons), and a decrease of 0.8% from the June 2011 result (535,600 tons.) The 2012 year-to-date steel shipment total is 3,303,400 tons for Canadian service centers, a 2.0% rise over the January-June 2011 total (3,239,000 tons.)

Canadian centers’ steel product inventories amount to 1,602,800 tons as of the end of June 2012, which is a decline of 2.6% from the May total (1,645,300 tons) and an increase of 2.8% from June 2011 (1,559,600 tons.)

At the current shipping rate, Canada’s service centers have a 3.0-month of supply steel available, an increase of 3.6% over the June 2011 inventory level.

Canada’s service centers’ aluminum shipments declined 7.5% from May to June, from 14,600 tons in the preceding month to 13,500 tons currently. The new total is an increase of just 1.1% from the June 2011 total (13,400 tons), and brings the year-to-date shipment total to 83,400 tons of aluminum, an increase of 11.9% from the January-June 2011 total.

Inventories of aluminum products at Canada’s service centers stand at 36,700 tons at the midpoint of 2012, an increase of 1.6% from last month’s inventory level (36,200 tons) and a 14.6% increase over the June 2011 total (32,100 tons.) At their current shipping rate, Canada’s service centers are holding the equivalent of a 2.7-month supply, an increase of 13.4% over last year’s comparable inventory total.

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