Metals Service Center Inventories Declining

June 16, 2009
Survey shows weak shipment volume during May

North American metal service centers report their inventory levels of steel and aluminum continued to decline in May, continuing a pattern that has held up for much of the current year. For the period, shipment-to-inventory ratios were essentially flat in the U.S. and increased slightly in Canada.
The information is reported in the Metals Service Center Institute’s monthly Metals Activity report, produced by the trade association from data supplied by its members.

MSCI reports U.S. service centers’ May steel shipments totaled 2.25 million tons, down -48.5% from the May 2008 volume. For the first five months of 2009, U.S. centers’ steel shipments amount to 12.3 million tons, down -44.3% compared to January-May 2008.

Steel inventories at U.S. centers are reported to total 6.46 million tons through the end of May, -38.3% less than was held in stock at the same point in 2008. At current shipping rates this volume represents a 2.9-month supply of steel, according to MSCI.

In Canada, service centers’ steel shipments totaled 375,500 tons during May, -40.3% below their May 2008 shipment total. The Canadians’ five-month total for 2009 shipments is 2.06 million tons, down -35.6% from January-May 2008.

Canadian centers’ steel inventories are reported to be 1.12 million tons as f May 31, -30.3% below the 2008 level. At the current shipping rate this volume equals a 3.0-month supply.

At U.S. service centers, May shipments of aluminum products amounted to 82,000 tons, -47.6% of the May 2008 shipment total. For the year-to-date, U.S. centers’ shipments of aluminum total 434,900 tons, -44% of the January-May 2008 shipment total.

End-of-month inventories for aluminum at U.S. service centers are reported at 282,300 tons, down -41.7% from 2008. At the current shipping rate, this is equal to a 3.4-month supply.

Canadian service centers shipped 10,100 tons of aluminum products in May, -30.8% of their May 2008 total. For the January-May period, they have shipped 53,900 tons of aluminum, -26.4% of their five-month total for 2008. Their current aluminum inventories amount to 31,000 tons, -14.6% of their stockpiles at the same point last year, and equal to a 3.1-month supply at the current shipment rate.