Service center deliveries correspond to a significant volume of steel and aluminum products consumed by machine shops and fabricators whose activities reflect the state of industrial activity in North America

Service Center Steel, Aluminum Shipments Fell in December

Jan. 18, 2017
Month-to-month and year-to-year declines for U.S., Canadian processors Daily shipping rates down Annual totals fell

Following a rise in shipments during November 2016, North American service centers registered some sharp declines for steel and aluminum deliveries during December, though inventory levels continued to fall during the same period. The data is drawn from the Metals Service Center Institute’s Monthly Activity Report.

MSCI tracks steel and aluminum delivery totals from service centers in the U.S. and Canada. Service center shipments correspond to a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers, and the activities at those operations are a reflection of industrial activity in the North America.

Steel shipments by U.S. service centers fell 12.6% from November to December, totaling 2.58 million tons. That figure is 6.9% lower than the comparable December 2015 shipment total.

The U.S. centers’ daily shipping rate for steel products fell by 17,700 tons from November to December.

For the full 12 months of 2016, U.S. centers steel shipments totaled 37.36 million tons, a 6.3% decline versus the January-December 2015 total.

Steel inventories at U.S. service centers reportedly totaled 7.22 million tons at the end of December, up slightly (2.7%) from the November inventory total, but 13.0% less than the December 2015 inventory level. At their current rate of deliveries, U.S. service centers are holding a 2.8-month supply, according to MSCI’s estimate.

Service centers in Canada shipped 289,900 tons of steel during December, a drop of 27.2% from the November figure, and yet 6.2% higher than the December 2015 result. The daily shipping rate fell by 4,500 tons from November to 14,500 tons/day. And, while Canadian service center steel shipments finished 2016 at 4.41 million tons, that figure is 5.7% lower than the comparable 12-month figure for the previous year.

Steel inventories rose 7.6% at Canadian service centers, finishing December at 1.17 million tons, a total that is just 0.4% higher than the steel inventory at the end of December 2015. At their current rate of deliveries, MSCI estimated that Canada’s service centers are holding a 4.0-month supply of steel products.

U.S. service centers shipped 106,200 tons of aluminum products during December, 9.9% less than during November and 5.3% less than during December 2015. The daily shipping rate for aluminum declined by about 500 tons, month to month, to 5,100 tons/day.

The 12-month total for service center aluminum shipments was 1,507,700 tons, 4.2% less than the January-December 2015 result.

U.S. centers’ aluminum inventories rose 12.4% from November to December, finishing the month at 384,100 tons, or 2.3% less than the previous December’s inventory report. At the current rate of shipments, MSCI estimated that U.S. service centers are carrying a 3.6-month supply.

Canadian service centers shipped 7.5 million tons of aluminum products during December, 31.8% less than during November and 1.0% less than during December 2015. The daily shipping rate fell only slightly (from 500 to 400 tons/day), and the January-December total was reported to be 122,400 tons, 10.5% less than the comparable 2015 result.

As for inventories, Canada’s service centers had 30,500 tons in stock as December ended, 1.3% less than the November figure and just 0.8% less than the December 2015 total. MSCI estimates that Canadian service centers are holding 4.1 months worth of aluminum, based on their current rate of deliveries.

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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