U.S. service centers’ steel products inventories at the close of September were up slightly from August, but down compared to the same point of 2014. At their current delivery rate, MSCI estimated U.S. centers have a 2.8-month supply of steel, unchanged from August.

Service Center Steel, Aluminum Shipments Slip Again in September

Oct. 21, 2015
Deliveries, daily shipping rates in slow decline from 2014, in the U.S. and Canada U.S. steel shipments, -10.9% Y/Y Canada steel shipments, -8.7% Y/Y U.S. aluminum shipments, -2.8% Y/Y Canada aluminum shipments, -0.2% Y/Y

Service centers’ deliveries of steel and aluminum products continued to decline across North America during September, though the Canadian operations reported some improvement in volumes versus the August results. Likewise, U.S. centers reported increases in inventory volumes from the previous month, while the Canadian centers steel holdings decreased slightly and aluminum volumes remained steady.

The year-to-date shipment totals were discouraging in all examples reported by the Metals Service Center Institute, which noted as well “inventory positions deteriorated again for both metals in both countries.”

MSCI’s monthly Metals Activity Report tracks results for service centers that process and deliver steel and aluminum in the U.S. and Canada. Service center shipments represent a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops and fabricators, and the activities at those operations are a reflection of industrial activity in the North America.

U.S. service centers shipped 3.26 million tons of steel products during September, 1.5% less than during August and 10.9% less than during September 2014. It was the fourth consecutive month for declining volumes of steel deliveries.

The average daily shipping rate also decreased to 155.3 tons/day, and the nine-month delivery total increased to 30.85 million tons, down 6.3% versus the January-September 2014 delivery total.

U.S. service centers’ steel products inventories at the close of September were reported to be 9.19 million tons, up slightly from the August level, but 1.6% less than the tonnage in stock at the same point of 2014. At their current delivery rate, MSCI estimated U.S. centers’ steel inventories as representing a 2.8-month supply — the same as it was at the close of August.

In September 2015, U.S. service center steel shipments decreased by 10.9% from September 2014. Steel product inventories decreased 1.6% from September a year ago. 

In Canada, steel deliveries increased 5.5% from August to 45,600 tons during September, but that figure is down 8.7% from September 2014. The daily rate ticked up slightly to 21.5 tons/day, and the year-to-date tonnage rose to 4.02 million – a figure that is 7.8% lower than the nine-month total for 2014.

Canadian centers’ steel product inventories decreased to 1.46 million tons, down 3.3% from the September 2014 report. At their current rate of deliveries, MSCI estimates that Canada’s service centers are holding a 3.2-month supply of steel products.

Aluminum product shipments by U.S. service centers slipped 1.36% from August to 130 thousand tons during September, and that total also signifies a 2.8% drop from September 2014. The daily shipping rate slipped slightly too, to 6.2 tons/day. For the January-September period, U.S. centers have shipped 1.214 million tons of aluminum products, just a tick less (0.1%) than the comparable 2014 total.

U.S. centers’ aluminum products inventory total is reported to be 400,100 tons, up 3,500 tons from the August inventory, and 0.8% more than the September 2014 inventory total. MSCI estimates the current total to represent a 3.1-month supply.

Canadian service center aluminum shipments rose 5.8% from August to September, to 14,300 tons, though that figure is 0.2% less than the September 2014 result. The daily shipping rate remained even with August, at 700 tons/day, and the year-to-date total for aluminum shipments is 123,200 tons, 1.1% above the January-September rate for Canada’s service centers.

Canadian centers’ aluminum inventories remained steady at 42,400 tons from August to September, but that total now is 4.9% higher than the September 2014 inventory levels.  At their current rate of deliveries, Canadian service centers are holding a 3.0-month supply of aluminum.

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