Service centers supply a significant volume of steel and aluminum products consumed by machine shops and fabricators, whose activities reflect overall industrial activity in North America.

U.S. Service Center Steel, Aluminum Deliveries Up in March

April 19, 2017
North American distributors post double-digit month-to-month increases in metal shipment rates U.S. steel shipments +9.7% year/year; aluminum +21.6% year/year Canada steel shipments up 15.2% year/year; aluminum up 20.4% year/year

North America’s metal service centers increased their steel shipment totals during March, and U.S. centers raised their aluminum shipments as well. Meanwhile, service centers in both the U.S. and Canada managed to lighten their inventory totals during the month. These are among the results of the latest Monthly Activity Report issued by the Metals Service Center Institute, an account of shipment and inventory volumes for 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 indicator of industrial activity in the North America.

Shipments of steel products by U.S. service centers rose 17.0% from February to March, to 3.66 million tons, and that figure represents a 9.7% improvement over the March 2016 total. The daily shipping rate rose by 2.7 tons to 159 tons/day, and the three-month total rose to 10.1 million tons, 5.8% higher than last year’s January-March total.

U.S. centers’ steel inventories fell 1.8% from February to March, and now stand at 7.2 million tons. At their current shipping rate, MSCI estimated that as a 2.0-month supply of steel products.

Canadian service centers shipped 421,300 ton of steel products during March, 15.2% more than during February and 7.4% higher than during March 2016. The daily shipping rate remained unchanged from February at 18.3 tons/day, and the year-to-date total rose 1.7% year/year to 1.2 million tons.

Inventories of steel products fell 5.4% from February to March, down to 1.2 million tons, which is estimated as a 2.8-month supply at the centers’ current rate of deliveries.

Aluminum deliveries by U.S. service centers rose 21.6% from February to March, and rose 13.0% from March 2016, up to 155,100 tons. The daily shipping rate ticked up only slightly, to 6.7 tons/day. But, the year-to-date total now at 415,700 tons of aluminum is 7.1% higher than the January-March 2016 total

Inventories of aluminum slipped only slightly from February, down 0.05% to 387,200 tons, but that total represents a 2.5-month supply according to MSCI’s estimation.

Canadian service centers’ aluminum shipments increased 20.4% from February, up to 11,200 tons, but that total represents a 2.0% decrease from March 2016. The daily shipping rate has remained unchanged since January at 500 tons/day. Through the first three months of 2017, the Canadian centers have shipped a total of 31,400 tons of aluminum products, 1.2% less than last year’s January-March total.

Inventories of aluminum products fell 1.9% from February and 2.0% from March 2016, to 31,000 tons. At their current rate of deliveries, the Canadian service centers are estimated to be holding a 2.8-month supply of aluminum products.

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