With yeartodate aluminum shipment totals down for North Americarsquos service centers aluminum inventory levels fell at locations in the US and Canada

Double-Digit Drops for Steel, Aluminum Shipments

March 18, 2013
Year-to-date steel shipments off pace U.S. centers’ steel inventories up 3.5% Aluminum inventories top three-month volumes

Shipments of steel and aluminum declined across North America, during February, continuing a weak start to 2013 for metals service centers. Even so, the Metals Service Center Institute noted one positive indicator: inventories of both metals remained at low levels in the U.S.

MSCI compiles the Monthly Activity Report to track shipments and inventories among its members in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. service centers shipped nearly 3.36 million tons of steel products during February, a drop of -7.6% from January’s shipment total of 3.64 million tons, and a drop of 7.9% from February 2012’s total, 3.65 million tons.

For the first two months of this year, U.S. centers’ steel shipments amount to 7.01 million tons, a -5% decline versus the January-February 2012 total.

As for inventories, U.S. service centers reportedly have 8.5 million tons of steel products on hand as of the end of February 2013, a -2.6% decrease from last month’s inventory level, and a -4.6% decrease compared to the February 2012 inventory report.

At their current shipping rate, U.S. service centers have a 2.5-months supply of steel in inventory. That represents a 3.5% rise over the 2012 inventory level at the comparable date, according to MSCI’s estimation.

In Canada, service centers shipped 463,100 tons of steel products during February, which was a decline of -11.3% from the January total, 522,300 tons. It also represents a -14.5% decrease from February 2012’s result, 541,500 tons, and brings the year-to-date steel shipments total to 985,400 tons. That indicates a -10.6% decrease for Canadian service centers from the two-month steel shipment total for 2012.

As February ended, Canada’s centers’ steel product inventories totaled 1.77 million tons, indicating a decrease of -0.2% from January but an increase of 2.4% from the February 2012 inventory volume.

At the current rate of shipments Canadian service centers have an estimated 3.8-month supply of steel available, an increase of 19.7% from February 2012.

Aluminum volumes down by double digits

During February U.S. service centers shipped 114,300 tons of aluminum products, -9.3% less than the January total of 126,100 tons, and -12.1% less than the February 2012 total of 130,000 tons.

The two-month total for 2013 U.S. aluminum shipments stands at 240,400 tons, a decrease of -8.8% from the January-February 2012 total of 263,600 tons.

U.S. inventories of aluminum products were 363,100 thousands as February ended, a -0.9% drop from the January inventory total, and a -3.1% drop compared to February 2012.

According to MSCI, at their current shipping rate U.S. service centers have a 3.2-months inventory — an increase of 10.3% from February 2012’s reported inventory.

Lastly, the Canadian service centers shipped 11,900 tons of aluminum products during February, -12.5% less than the 13,600 tons shipped during January, and -11.9% less than the 13,500 shipped during February 2012.

The Canadian service centers’ 2013 year-to-date aluminum shipments now total 25,500 tons, a decrease of -7.4% versus January-February 2012.

Inventories of aluminum products for Canada’s service centers amounted to 38,200 tons at the end of February, falling -6.3% from the January inventory level, and rising 9.7% from the February 2012 total.

At their current shipping rate, Canadian centers have 3.2-months of aluminum available in inventory, an increase of 24.5% from MSCI’s February 2012 estimation.

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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