Metal Service Center Shipments Steady in March

April 27, 2012
U.S. centers daily volume off for steel, steady for aluminum

North America’s metal service centers’ shipments generally improved in March, with some indicators of increases from slowing daily shipping rates during February, and inventory totals remained steady for both steel and aluminum. However, the Metals Service Center Institute’s year-on-year comparison shows tonnages declined for both metals against the comparable 2011 results.

The data is contained in MSCI’s month Metals Activity Report, which is based on actual shipment data reported by metals service centers in the U.S. and Canada.

U.S. service centers shipped 3.8 million tons of steel products during March, a 4.1% improvement over the February shipment total, though the average tons shipped per day declined to 172.9 tons/day from 174.1 tons/day. Also, the latest figure is a decrease of 0.5% from March 2011 total.

Through the first three months of 2012, U.S. service centers have shipped 11.2 million tons of steel, an increase of 7.2% over the January-March 2011 period. As the month ended, U.S. service centers’ steel inventories totaled 8,869.3 thousand, a 0.6% decrease from February but a 10.6% rise over March 2011. At the current shipping rate, the inventories represent 2.3-months supply, an increase of 11.1% from March 2011.

As for aluminum, U.S. centers shipped 135,500 tons of material during March, 4.1% more than were shipped in February, but signifying no change in the average 6.2 tons/day shipped. The latest month’s total is also a decrease of 4.1% the total shipments of aluminum for U.S. centers in March 2011.

Through the first three months of 2012, U.S. centers’ aluminum shipments have totaled 399,100 tons, a 6.2% increase over March 2011 totals. Inventories of aluminum products stood at 374,100 tons at the end of March 2012, an increase of 0.2% from February and a 5.1% rise over March 2011 inventories. The ‘U.S. centers current shipping rate indicate this represents 2.8 months supply of aluminum products, an increase of 9.6% from March 2011.

In Canada, service centers’ March steel shipments totaled 575,600 tons, a 6.3% rise from the February shipment total, as well as an increase in the daily shipping rate from 25.8 tons/day to 26.1 tons/day. The latest month’s total was, however, a 6.4% decrease in total tonnage from March 2011.

For the first three months of 2012, Canada’s steel service centers have shipped 1.68 million tons of steel, a 1% increase versus the January-March 2011 total.

Canada’s steel product inventories stood at 1.7 million tons at the close of March, a decline of 1.0% from February inventories but an increase of 11.6% from March 2011 totals. The available stocks represent a 3.0-months of steel at the current shipping rate, an Increase of 19.3% from a year ago.

Finally, Canada’s service centers shipped 14,300 tons of aluminum products during March, a 5.9% increase over the February shipment total, and a 4.4% increase over March 2011 aluminum shipments. The current month’s total also represents a slight increase in the rate of aluminum shipments for March, 700,000 tons/day versus 600,000 tons/day during February.

For the first three months of 2012, Canadian centers have shipped 418,000 tons of aluminum, an increase of 14.1% over the January-March 2011 period. Current aluminum inventories amount to 35,300 tons, a 1.5% rise over last month’s inventory total and a 20% increase over the March 2011 level. At the current shipping rate for aluminum products, Canada’s service centers have a 2.5-mohths’ supply, which is up 15.1% from March 2011.

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