Service centers’ shipments represent a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.

Service Centers' Shipments Surged in October

Nov. 20, 2017
Deliveries of steel and aluminum products increased by significant margins, which had a positive effect on inventory positions for service centers in the U.S. and Canada.

North American service center shipments of steel and aluminum increased significantly during October 2017, though in most examples inventory volumes increased too. The figures indicate substantial increases in shipment volumes versus September and October 2016, and steadily rising totals versus the pace of shipments for the year-to-date.

Service center steel and aluminum shipments for the U.S. and Canada are reported monthly by the Metals Service Center Institute in its Metals Activity Report, which presents shipment volumes and inventory totals as reported by member companies. Both indexes offer insight to the current state of manufacturing activity, as service center metal products constitute to a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops, fabricators, and other manufacturers.

U.S. service center steel shipments increased to 3.4 million metric tons during October, up by 11.8% from September’s total and up 10.7% from the October 2016 level. The U.S. centers’ daily shipping rate for steel products increased 2.5% from September to 154,700 tons/day, bringing the year-to-date shipment total to 32.96 million tons, an improvement of 3.6% over the January-October total for 2016.

Inventories of steel products at U.S. service centers declined in volume from September to October, down 1.4% to 7.68 million tons. That figure is 5.6% higher than the steel-products inventory at the end of October 2016, but at the current shipping rate it reduces MSCI’s estimate on the inventory to a 2.3-month supply.

Canadian service centers shipped 391,700 tons of steel products during October, up 35.1% from September’s result and up 9.8% over the October 2016 level. The centers’ daily shipping rate increased slightly (0.9%) to 18,700 tons/day, and the YTD shipment volume rose to 3.85 million tons, up 3.4% over last year’s 10-month total.

Canada’s service center steel inventories rose from September (+0.6%) to 1.17 million tons, a rise of 8.3% over last October’s stock level. However, at the current shipping rate MSCI estimates that, at the current shipping rate, the Canadian centers have reduced their holdings to a 3.0-month supply.

U.S. service centers shipped 144,300 tons of aluminum products during October, up 9.98% from September and up 16.8% from October 2016. The daily shipping rate remained unchanged for the third consecutive month at 6,600 tons. The annual total for U.S. centers’ aluminum products shipments is now 1.34 million tons, which is 7.9% higher than last October’s YTD shipmen total.

Inventories of aluminum products rose to 406,900 tons by the end of October, which is 1.2% higher than the September total and 5.4% higher than the October 2016 level. At the current rate of shipments, MSCI reduced its estimate on U.S. centers’ aluminum product inventories to a 2.8-month supply.

Canada’s service centers shipped 10,600 tons of aluminum during October, 2.9% more than during September and 7.0% more than during October 2016. Their daily shipping rate remained unchanged at 500 tons/day – a level it has held since January. The year-to-date total is up to 103,700 tons of aluminum products, down 0.2% compared to last year’s 10-month total.

Canadian service center aluminum inventories ticked up 0.6% to 30,700 tons at the end of October, down 2.0% from October 2016. At their current rate of deliveries, MSCI estimated that Canada’s centers are holding a 2.9-month supply.

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