Service centers’ inventories rose for steel (U.S., +7.6%; Canada, +4.2%) and aluminum (U.S., +1.0%; Canada, +2.25%) from November to December, with even more significant increases from December 2013.

Service Centers’ Shipments Mixed, but Inventories Rising

Jan. 20, 2015
In December, steel and aluminum deliveries rose slightly in the U.S. but plummeted in Canada U.S. steel shipments +4.2%, year/year Canada steel shipments -0.2%, year/year U.S. aluminum shipments +8.1%, year/year Canada aluminum shipments +5.1%, year/year

Shipments of steel and aluminum by U.S. metal service centers rose slightly from November to December, but declined significantly in Canada. The latest monthly totals meant the annual shipment volumes positive for both metals, with one small exception.

Also during November, steel and aluminum inventory levels increased at service centers in both countries.

The data is contained in the Metals Service Center Institute’s latest Monthly Activity Report, which details steel and aluminum shipments and inventories for service centers in the U.S. and Canada, measuring absolute tonnages as well as daily shipping rates and inventory volumes.

For U.S. service centers, steel shipments totaled 3.14 million tons during December, rising 0.7% over November, and 6.3% over December 2013.

The final month’s volume raised the 12-month total to 43.1 million tons of steel shipped by U.S. service centers, 4.2% more than the total for 2013.

U.S. service centers still inventories rose to 9.9 million metric tons by the end of December, which was 7.6% more than at the end of November, and 18.3% higher than at the end of December 2013.

At the current rate of deliveries, MSCI estimated the current inventory as a 3.2-month supply for U.S. service centers.

Steel shipments by Canadian service centers declined 16.7% from November to December, totaling 374,700 tons. However, that volume was 7.5% higher than the December 2013 total. For the full year, Canadian service centers shipped 5.7 million tons of steel, 0.2% less than during 12 months of 2013.

Steel inventories increased at Canadian service centers, up 4.2% from November, to 1.66 million tons at the end of December. That figure also represents a 21.4% year-on-year inventory increase, and represents a 4.4-month supply at current delivery rates.

Aluminum shipments by U.S. service centers rose just 0.3% from November, totaling 116,500 tons in December. That volume was 11.8% above the December 2013 total, and brought the 12-month total for U.S. centers aluminum shipments to 1.6 million tons, or 8.1% more than the 2013 total.

Inventories of aluminum products at U.S. centers rose 1.0% from November to December, to 408,200 tons. That is estimated by MSCI as a 3.5-month supply at current aluminum shipment rates.

Canadian service centers shipped 10,500 tons of aluminum during December, 21.0% less than the November total, but 18.2% more than the December 2013 shipment volume. From January to December 2014, Canada’s service centers shipped 160,900 tons of aluminum, which was 5.1% more than during 12 months of 2013.

At 40,800 tons, Canadian centers’ aluminum inventories rose 2.25% from November, and 12.2% from December 2014. The total is equivalent to a 3.9-month supply at the current rate of shipments.

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