US service centers reported slightly better levels of activity for steel and aluminum during May than their counterparts in Canada However inventory levels for both product categories generally declined in both markets

Metal Shipments Steady in May, but Lack Momentum

June 24, 2013
Steel shipments up 0.7% in U.S., down -1.9% in Canada Aluminum deliveries rose 3.8% in U.S., up 2.8% in Canada

North America’s metals service centers are falling behind their 2012 pace, according to the Metals Service Center Institute. The results of the May Monthly Activities Report showed only modest changes in steel and aluminum shipment totals from the April results,

The Metals Service Center Institute’s Monthly Activity Report is based on data supplied by participating metals service centers for both the U.S. and Canada, though results for steel deliveries appeared slightly stronger than those for aluminum. Likewise, the report shows no indictors of momentum in the centers’ daily shipping rates and inventory levels.

Shipments of steel products from U.S. service centers totaled 3,657,600 tons in May, rising just 0.7% from April, but trailing the May 2012 result by 4.8%. The daily shipping rate rose to 166,300 tons/day, from 166,000 tons/day in May, but falling from 174,600 tons/day in May 2012.

The five-month total for U.S. service centers’ steel shipments is 17,726,300 million, -4.6% less than the January-May 2012 total.

U.S. service centers reported 8,026,400 tons of steel product in stock as April ended, a -3.4% decline from April, but an -11.6% change in inventory levels since May 2012. At their current rate of shipments, U.S. centers have a 2.2-month supply of steel available.

The results for steel slightly worse at Canada’s service centers. They shipped 515,000 tons of steel in March, -1.9% less than during April, and -10.1% less than during May 2012. The Canadian centers’ daily steel shipment rate fell to 23,400 tons/day, from 23,900 tons/day in April and 26,000 tons/day in May 2012.

The five-month total for Canadian centers’ steel shipments is 2,498,100 tons, off by -9.9% from the pace set during the same period of 2012.

Steel product inventories totaled 1,522,200 tons as May ended, declining -7.5% from May 2012. MSCI estimated this represents 3.0-month supply of material at the current rate of deliveries.

Shipments Up, Inventories Flat

Shipments of aluminum products from U.S. service centers rose 3.8% in May, up to 132,400 tons from 127,500 tons in April. The new result was a -2.7% decline from 136,100 tons of aluminum shipped during May 2012.

The daily shipping rate for aluminum products ticked up to 6.0 tons/day, from 5.8 tons/day in April, but still off the rate of 6.2 tons/day for May 2012.

For the January-May period, U.S. service centers shipped 617,200 tons of aluminum, -7.1% less than was shipped during the comparable period of 2012.

U.S. aluminum inventories at the end of May were reported to be 368,000 tons, down from 367,100 tons in April, and -4.6% off the May 2012 inventory level.

At the current rate of deliveries, MSCI estimated U.S. service centers have a 2.8-month supply of aluminum products.

In Canada, service centers shipped 14,500 tons of aluminum during May, up 2.8% from the April’s 14,100 tons shipped, and -0.5% less than May 2012’s total. With daily shipments averaging 700 tons during May, Canadian deliveries now total 67,000 tons for the year to date. That result represents a -4.1% decline versus the result for the January-May 2012 period.

Canadian centers’ aluminum inventories rose slightly as May ended, up to 37,200 tons (from 37,100 tons for April), but also rose 2.7% versus the May 2012 level. At the current rate of shipments, Canada’s service centers have 2.6-months of aluminum in inventory.

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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