North America’s metal service centers’ steel and aluminum shipments declined in April, by double-digit percentages from March, but more narrowly year-over-year. The decreases undid the gains posted in March, according to the Metals Service Center Institute.
MSCI issues a monthly summary of shipments and inventories for steel and aluminum products at service centers in the U.S. and Canada.
Service center shipments and inventories are an index to manufacturing activity, as both correspond to a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.
U.S. service centers shipped 3.11 million tons of steel products during April, 14.9% less than during March and 4.2% less than during April 2016. The daily shipping rate, however, increased by 4.7 tons to 163,700 tons/day.
At the close of April, U.S. service centers had shipped 13.2 million tons of steel through the first four months of this year, 3.3% more than the comparable 2016 total.
U.S. centers’ steel products inventories fell slightly from March, -0.3%, to 7.19 million metric tons. Even so, those inventories are 6.0% lower than a year ago. At their current rate of deliveries, MSCI estimated that U.S. service centers are holding a 2.3-month supply of steel products.
Canadian service centers shipped 362,400 tons of steel products during April, 13.9% less than during March and 2.8% less than during April 2016. The April daily shipping rate rose by 0.8 tons to 19.1 tons/day.
For the January-April period, Canadian service centers shipped 1.56 million tons of steel products, 0.6% more than last year’s four-month total.
Canadian service centers’ steel products inventories fell 1.9% from March to April, and 10.0% from April 2016, finishing the latest month at 1.14 million tons – estimated as a 3.2-month supply.
In April 2017, Canadian service center shipments of steel products decreased by 2.8% from April 2016. Steel product inventories decreased 10.0% from April a year ago.
Aluminum shipments from U.S. service centers fell 17.8% from March and 0.4% from April 2016, totaling 127,500 tons for the latest month. The April daily shipping rate remained unchanged from March at 6.7 tons/day.
The year-to-date total for U.S. service centers’ aluminum products shipments is 543,100 tons, 5.2% higher than last year’s January-April total.
Aluminum inventories at U.S. service centers fell 1.8% from March to 380,300 tons during April. That represents a 1.0% drop from the April 2016 inventory total, and is equivalent to a 3.0-month supply at the current shipping rate, according to MSCI.
Canadian service centers shipped 9,600 tons of aluminum during April, a decrease of 14.3% from March and of 4.3% from April 2016. The daily shipping rate remained unchanged for the fourth straight month, at 500 tons/day.
The year-to-date total for aluminum shipments by Canadian service centers is now 41,000 tons, 1.9% less than the comparable four-month total for 2016.
Inventories of aluminum products from Canada’s service centers decreased 2.6% from March and 4.2% from April 2016, now standing at 31,800 tons. At the current shipping rate, MSCI estimated the Canadian service centers are holding a 3.3-month supply of aluminum products.