North American service centers increased their shipments of steel products from February to March, but overall metal shipments declined from 2015 levels – and “at an accelerated pace in both the United States and Canada,” according to the Metals Service Center Institute. Even so, inventory positions for steel and aluminum in both countries showed evidence of improvement.
These readings are drawn from the March release of MSCI’s monthly Metals Activity Report, which details shipment and inventory totals for steel and aluminum at service centers in the U.S. and Canada. Service center shipments correspond to 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’ shipments of steel products totaled 3.33 million tons during March, 4.8% more than during February but 9.2% less than the March 2015 delivery total. Although March presented three more business days than February, the daily shipping rate declined 4.3% during the month. The 2016 three-month delivery total for U.S. service centers’ steel products shipments rose to 9.56 million metric tons, which is 9.1% less than the March 2015 total.
Inventories of steel products at U.S. service centers fell 2.0% from February, to 7.68 million tons. That figure is 19.6% less than the March 2015 inventory total, and MSCI’ estimated it represents a 2.3-month supply of steel products at the current delivery rate.
Canadian service centers shipped 392,200 tons of steel during March, 1.2% less than during February and 11.3% less than during March 2015. The daily shipment rate fell 5.8% from February, to 17.8 tons/day. The January-March shipment total is 1.18 million tons, but that figure is .47% less than the three-month total for 2015.
Inventories of steel at Canadian service centers fell 1.9% from February to 1.19 million metric tons, which is 28.8% lower than the March 2015 inventory total. It is estimated that Canadian service centers are carrying a 3.0-month supply of steel at the current rate of deliveries.
Aluminum products shipments from U.S. service centers during March rose 7.1% from February, to 137,200 tons. However, the total is 2.6% less than the March 2015 figure. The March daily shipment rate slipped slightly from February to 6.0 tons/day. U.S. centers’ three-month total for aluminum shipments is 388,200 tons, 2.9% less than during January-March 2015.
Inventories of aluminum at U.S. service centers rose 1.4% from February to March to 383,600 tons, which is 3.0% lower than inventories reported a year earlier. The current figure represents a 2.8-month supply of aluminum, according to the MSCI estimate.
Service centers in Canada shipped 11,500 tons of aluminum during March, 11.6% more than during February but 7.2% less than during March 2015. The daily shipment rate remained unchanged for the third-straight month at 500 tons/day. At 31,700 tons, the year-to-date total for aluminum shipments is 9.0% less than last year’s January-March result.
Inventories of aluminum at Canadian service centers fell 1.5% from February to March, to 31.6 million tons, which is 18.0% lower than the March 2015 inventory total. MSCI estimated that volume to be a 2.7-month supply at the current delivery rate.