Steel shipment volumes increased considerably from December 2012 to January 2013 but the totals trailed January 2012 shipments by 21 in the US and 69 in Canada mdash and that yearonyear shortfall was evident in aluminum shipment totals too

Slow Start for 2013 Steel, Aluminum Shipments

Feb. 19, 2013
Year-on-year shipments down Rates of inventory rising

Shipments of steel and aluminum from service centers declined in North America during January, getting the current year “off to a slow start,” according to the Metals Service Center Institute. The results are contained in the trade association’s Monthly Activity Report for January, part of a series based on actual shipment data reported by the group’s members.

The MAR presents data on total shipments for steel and aluminum products in the U.S. and Canada, and includes monthly averages for shipments on a tons-per-day basis. Also, the MSCI calculates the total volume of inventories that service centers report at the closing of each month to estimate their supply levels according to current daily shipping rates.

Steel shipments trail — U.S. service centers shipped 3.6 million tons of steel products during January, which represented an improvement of 43.9% over the 2.53 million tons shipped in December 2012. However, the new figure also shows a decline of 2.1% versus the January 2012 total, 3.7 million tons shipped. 2013. This represents a decrease of 2.1% from January 2012.

Steel product inventories for U.S. service centers stood at 8.7 million tons as January closed, rising 2.2% over December’s reported inventories, but decreasing 0.4% from the January 2012 inventory level.

At the current shipping rate, MSCI estimated that U.S. centers are carrying 2.4 months of steel products in inventory, an increase of 1.8% from the January 2012 supply estimate.

In Canada, service centers’ January steel shipments rose 54.2% to 522,300 tons, up from 338,600 tons shipped during December 2012. Yet, the new figure indicated a decrease of 6.9% from January 2012.

Steel product inventories were reported at nearly 1.8 million tons at the end of January, decreasing 3.2% from the previous month but increasing 5.7% from January 2012. The latest total computes as a 3.4-month supply of steel at the Canadian centers’ current shipping rate, an increase of 13.5% over the January 2012 supply level.

Aluminum shipments off pace

U.S. service centers’ January aluminum products shipments increased 37.2% to 126,100 tons, compared to the December total of 91,900 tons shipped. Matching the trend set with January steel shipments, the new aluminum shipment result is 5.6% behind the January 2012 total, 133,600 tons shipped.

Inventories of aluminum products at U.S. service centers were to be 366,400 tons as January 2013 ended, rising 0.2% from the December inventory total but dropping 2.1% versus the January 2012 report.

At their current shipping rate, U.S. centers’ aluminum products inventory is estimated to be a 2.9-month supply, an increase of 3.7% from the estimate a year ago.

Lastly, Canada’s service centers shipped 13.600 tons of aluminum products during January, improving 60% on December’s shipments, 8,500 tons.  Still, the new result trails the January 2012 shipment total (14,000 tons) by 3.0%.

Canadian centers’ inventories of aluminum products were reported to be 40,700 tons at the end of January, increasing 5.0% from December and 19.2% from January 2012 reports.

At the current shipping rate, the Canadian service centers are estimated to be holding a 3.0- month inventory of aluminum products, an increase of 22.9% from the comparable estimate for January 2012.

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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