Steel and aluminum shipments from metals service centers, which rose from year-ago levels in April, were lower again in May in the United States and Canada, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows (www.msci.org). Customers appear to be operating very close to the vest with no discernable momentum building in either direction. Although inventories of both metals continued to be well below year-ago levels, U.S. steel inventories rose slightly from stocks on hand at the end of April.
Steel Product Activity
May shipments of steel products from U.S. metals service centers fell 7.2 percent, to 4.36 million tons, from May 2007 levels. U.S. steel shipments for the year to date of 22.06 million tons are 3.7 percent lower than shipments for the period last year. At the end of May, steel inventories totaled 12.54 million tons, 10.8 percent lower than a year ago and, at current shipping rates, equal to a 2.9-month supply.
May steel shipments from Canadian metals service centers fell 7.5 percent to 313,500 tons, bringing shipments for the first five months of the year to nearly 1.6 million tons, or 2.1 percent lower than during the same period of 2007. At the end of May, Canadian inventories totaled 1.08 million tons of steel, down 14.2 percent from a year ago and equal to a 3.4-month supply at current shipping rates.
Aluminum Product Activity
May shipments of aluminum products from U.S. metals service centers totaled 95,700 tons, down 2.4 percent from a year ago. Shipments for the first five months of the year total 474,200 tons, off 5.8 percent from 2007. Month-end inventories of 281,500 tons were down 18.5 percent from year-ago aluminum inventories and represented a 2.9-month supply at current shipping rates.
In Canada, aluminum shipments during May fell 4.3 percent to 10,200 tons. Shipments for the year to date of 51,400 tons are up 1.0 percent from the 2007 period. Inventories at the end of May totaled 26.8 million tons, down 5.5 percent from a year ago and, at current shipping rates, equal to a 2.6-month supply.
The Metals Activity Report (MAR), based on data from metals service centers in the United States and Canada, is produced by the Metals Service Center Institute and a third-party econometrics and strategy firm, McCoy, Scott & Co. MSCI tracks the relationships between many external economic variables and MAR shipment levels on a regular basis. The statistical validity of these relationships describes the credibility of the MSCI data and the importance of the metals distribution channel to the manufacturing economy as a whole.
Founded in 1909, the Metals Service Center Institute has more than 420 members operating from about 1,200 locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere in the world. Together, MSCI members constitute the largest single group of metals purchasers in North America, amounting each year to more than 65 million tons of steel, aluminum, and other metals, with about 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators as customers. MSCI’s membership also includes almost all ferrous and non-ferrous industrial metals producers in North America. Metals service centers inventory and distribute metals and provide first-stage fabrication services.