The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) confirmed Tuesday what many steel buyers already know -- demand is up, and mills are humming.
The Washington, D.C., trade association, which serves producers, suppliers and customers, reported that steel shipments were 112,085,000 net tons for 2004, up from 105,974,000 net tons in 2003. All markets posted increases expect electrical equipment, which was down 5.1%. Service centers and distributors shipped 4.6% more; automotive suppliers 4.9% more; construction, 4.9%; oil and gas, 13.5%; machinery/industrial equipment/tools, 20.2%; appliances, utensils and cutlery, 1.5%; and containers/packaging/shipping materials, 1.0%.
For December 2004 monthly comparisons, shipments were down 6.5% on the year-to-year and 6.5% from the prior months. The AISI attributed this to an inventory build-up at the end of the year that was not large enough to bring down overall annual shipments.
The surge in demand for steel has been attributed to increasing demand for products containing steel as the economy recovers (such the demand for machine tools) and massive industrial and infrastructure projects underway in China.
The AISI will hold its annual meeting in Washington, D.C., May 17-19.