U.S. and Canadian steel and aluminum shipments continue decline

Shipments of steel and aluminum products from metals service centers in the United States and Canada continued to decline in year-over-year comparisons during September, but U.S. inventories of the two metals actually rose slightly from year-ago levels, the Metals Activity Report (MAR) from the Metals Service Center Institute (www.msci.org) shows.

On a month-to-month basis, with unprecedented economic volatility spreading uncertainty throughout the business community, demand for service center products in the United States and Canada declined in September. Service centers responded to the deteriorating market conditions by reducing total inventories from August levels to bring supply in line with weaker demand.

September is the first month to use data based on a new methodology to compute metals service center total shipment levels in the two countries. Similarly, the method used to derive industry-wide figures for month-end inventories has been adjusted to account for the actual experience of participating members better. Historic shipment and inventory data has been restated for both metals and countries to reflect the new methodologies.

September shipments of steel products from U.S. metals service centers totaled nearly 3.73 million tons, a decline of 7.6 percent from September 2007. U.S. shipments for the first nine months of the year totaled about 38.08 million tons, down 5.4 percent from a year ago. Month-end inventories of steel products totaled 10.66 million tons, 0.9 percent more than a year ago. At the current sales rate, that represents a 2.9-month supply.

Canadian service center steel shipments in September totaled 534,100 tons, a decline of 10.6 percent from September 2007. Shipments for the first nine months of the year totaled about 5.36 million tons, down 6.4 percent from the 2007 period. Canadian steel inventories at the end of the month totaled about 1.45 million tons, down 14.9 percent from a year ago and, at current shipping rates, sufficient for 2.7 months.

Shipments of aluminum products from U.S. metals service centers totaled 137,200 tons in September, a decline of 3.7 percent from the same month a year ago. Nine-month aluminum shipments total about 1.35 million tons, a decline of 5.7 percent from the 2007 period. Aluminum inventories at the end of September totaled 450,400 tons, or 1.4 percent more than this time a year ago and, at current shipping rates, a 3.3-month supply.

In Canada, metals service centers shipped 14,700 tons of aluminum products in September, down 2.8 percent from a year ago. Shipments for the first nine months of the year of 128,800 tons are down 1.7 percent from that period in 2007. Aluminum inventories of 37,000 tons are down 9.6 percent from a year ago and, at current shipping rates, represent a 2.5-month supply of the light metal.

The Metals Activity Report (MAR), based on data from metals service centers in the United States and Canada, is produced by the Metals Service Center Institute and a third-party econometrics and strategy firm, McCoy, Scott & Co. Founded in 1909, the Metals Service Center Institute has more than 420 members operating from about 1,200 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere in the world

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