US service centersrsquo inventories of steel products dropped 36 from September totals and remain slightly less than 1 above the stock levels at the comparable point of 2011

Service Centers See October Rebounds for Steel, Aluminum

Nov. 18, 2012
Strong steel shipments for U.S., Canadian Centers Inventories of steel in Canada up 11.8%, year-on-year

Shipments by steel and aluminum service centers showed signs of improvement during October, following two consecutive months of slowing delivery voslume, according to details of the monthly Metals Activity Report released by the Metals Service Center Institute. The report covers shipments and inventory levels at service centers in the U.S. and Canada, based on data supplied by participating member companies.

U.S. service centers shipped 3,510,400 tons of steel products during October, a 14% increase over September’s shipments of 3,078,900. The new result is also a 3.9% improvement on the October 2011 shipment total, 3,378,100, and brings the U.S. centers’ total 2012 shipments to 35,620,500. That represents a 3.4% increase over the 2011 10-month total.

Those same U.S. service centers have steel product inventories totaling 8,447,600 tons as of the end of October, a 3.6% decline versus total steel inventories reported at the end of September, but an increase of 0.8% over the October 2011 inventory report. At the current shipping rate, MSCI estimates that service centers have a 2.4-months supply of steel available, which is 3.0% less than the volume in stock at the close of October 2011.

Canada’s service centers shipped 523,400 tons of steel products during October, improving by 11.4% their September total of 469,900 tons. Even so, the new result trails by 1.1% the result from October 2011, 529,400 tons. From January through October, Canadian centers have shipped 5,280,900 tons of steel products, 1.0% less than the total shipped during the first 10 months of 2011.

Steel product inventory levels in Canada amount to 1,652,600 tons, rising 1.4% versus the inventory total a month ago, and 11.2% higher than the total reported for October 2011. At their current rate of shipment, Canada’s steel service centers have a 3.2-months supply of material available. That is an increase of 12.5% over their October 2011 inventory volume.

Higher aluminum deliveries

As for aluminum products, U.S. service centers shipped 125,000 tons last month, an 11.1% increase over the 112,500 tons shipped during October. However, the latest figure is a drop of 2.3% from the October 2011 shipment total, 128,000 tons. Year-to-date aluminum products shipments for U.S. service centers is 1,286,400 tons, just 1.2% higher than the total shipped during the January-October 2011 period.

Inventories of aluminum products at U.S. service centers stood at 371,800 tons as October ended, down 1.3% from the prior month inventory total, but up 3.8% over the October 3.8% rise on the October 2011 total. At the current shipping rate, MSCI indicated aluminum inventories equal a 3.0-months supply in inventory, 6.3% higher than the comparable inventory figure in 2011.

Finally, Canadian centers reported shipments of 14,000 tons of aluminum products during October, 13.8% higher than the 12,300 tons of aluminum products shipped during September, and also 13.6% higher than the amount shipped during October 2011. A total of 135,500 tons of aluminum products have been shipped by Canadian service centers for the 10 months of 2012, 9.6% more than was shipped during the January-October 2011 period.

Canadian inventories of aluminum products rose by 0.5% to 39,600 tons as of the end of October, and also increased by 8.8% from the October 2011 inventory report. At the current rate of shipments, MSCI estimated this amounts to a 2.8-months supply of aluminum products, down 4.1% from the October 2011 estimate.

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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