U.S. steel mills shipped 8.4% more tons this February over February 2002, but shipments declined on a month-to-month basis. The American Iron and Steel Institute reported this week that producers shipped 8,087,000 net tons in February 2003, up from 7,462,000 net tons shipped in February 2002. That's also a 4.1% decrease from the 8,435,000 net tons shipped in January 2003. For the first two months of 2003, steel shipments were 16,451,000 net tons, a 7.5% increase from the 15,301,000 net tons shipped during the same period in 2002. A year-to-year comparison of shipments shows the following changes within major market classifications: service centers and distributors, up 0.7%; automotive, up 0.8%; construction and contractors' products, down 4.5%; oil and gas, up 16.6%; machinery, industrial equipment and tools, up 5.7%; appliances, utensils and cutlery, up 7.0%; containers, packaging and shipping materials, down 5.6%; and electrical equipment, down 56.4%.