Aluminum shipments are up 16 YTD in the US and up 92 YTD in Canada but September results indicated a sharp drop in demand

September Slide for Metal Center Shipments

Oct. 16, 2012
U.S. m-t-m steel shipments -15.7%, aluminum shipments -16.1% Canada m-t-m steel shipments -8.5%, aluminum shipments -8.2%

North American demand for steel and aluminum took a sharp drop in September, after encouraging increases in August shipments, though inventories of both metals remained mostly even at U.S. and Canadian service centers. The new results are contained in the monthly survey conducted by the Metals Service Center Institute, which noted declines in year-on-year shipments for the second consecutive month.

MSCI represents processors and distributors of metal products in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. service centers shipped approximately 3,078,900 tons of steel products during September, a 15.7% decline from August’s 3,653,100 tons, and a 9.5% decrease from the September 2011 shipment total.

For the January-September 2012 period, U.S. service centers’ steel shipments have totaled 32,110,100 tons, an increase of 3.3% over the nine-month total for 2011.

Currently, the U.S. centers have steel inventories of 8,765,000 million tons, which is down 2.1% from their inventory total at the end of August, but up 3.1% versus the September 2011 figure. At their current shipping rate, U.S. service centers have a 2.8-month supply of steel.

As for aluminum products, U.S. centers shipped 112,500 tons of aluminum products during September, a 16.1% drop from the August total of 134,100 tons, and a decrease of 10.8% from the 126,200 tons shipped in September 2011. For the current year-to-date, U.S. centers’ aluminum shipments have been 1,161,400 tons, an increase of 1.6% over January-September 2011.

Inventories of aluminum products at U.S. service centers totaled 376,600 tons at the end of September 2012, a 1.1% decline from August but an increase of 6.5% over September 2011. At their current shipping rate, U.S. centers have 3.3 months of aluminum in stock.

Canada's results

In Canada, service centers shipped 469,900 tons of steel products in September, down 8.5% from the 513,400 tons those operations shipped during August, but down 15.6% from the 556,900 tons shipped during September 2011.

The 2012 nine-month total for Canadian center steel shipments is 4,757,600 tons, a decrease of 1.0% from the 4,805,500 tons shipped during January-September 2011.

At the end of September, Canada’s service centers had 1,629,500 tons of steel products in stock, an increase of 0.5% from the August total but up 4.2% from the September 2011 inventory total. At the current shipping rate, this indicates 3.5-month of supply.

Finally, Canada’s service centers shipped 12,300 tons of aluminum during September, an 8.2% decline from the August shipment total of 13,400, and a 7.5% decline from the 13,300 tons of aluminum shipped in September 2011.

Through the current nine months of 2012, aluminum shipments in Canada have been 121,500 tons, 9.2% more than the 111,200 tons shipped for the January-September period of 2011.

The Canadians centers reported inventories of aluminum totaling 39,400 tons at the close of September, up 0.5% from the August inventory total but up 12.8% versus the September 2011 inventory level. At the current shipping rate, the centers have a 3.2-month supply of aluminum available.

About the Author

Robert Brooks | Content Director

Robert Brooks has been a business-to-business reporter, writer, editor, and columnist for more than 20 years, specializing in the primary metal and basic manufacturing industries. His work has covered a wide range of topics, including process technology, resource development, material selection, product design, workforce development, and industrial market strategies, among others. Currently, he specializes in subjects related to metal component and product design, development, and manufacturing — including castings, forgings, machined parts, and fabrications.

Brooks is a graduate of Kenyon College (B.A. English, Political Science) and Emory University (M.A. English.)

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