Following a general improvement in volume during October, North American metals service centers’ deliveries of steel and aluminum declined significantly in November. The figures reported by the Metals Service Center Institute in its Monthly Activities Report showed double-digit declines for both metals in the U.S. and for steel shipments from Canadian centers.
Overall, the November results portray a market wavering through the first 11 months of this year, with shipment totals rising and falling from month to month as service centers seek to find a rhythm between industrial demand and producer prices.
MSCI is a trade association of service centers and metal processors across North America. It prepares the monthly summary of steel and aluminum shipments from data reported by member companies in the U.S. and Canada.
“Only U.S. aluminum shipments increased in November from year-earlier levels,” according to the brief analysis provided by MSCI. “Decreases in steel shipments in the United States and for both metals in Canada were moderate. Inventories are in line with shipping levels.”
Steel Deliveries, Inventories
Steel shipments from U.S. service centers dropped 19.1% from October to November, with a total of 3.07 million tons. The daily shipping rate fell from 164,900 tons in the previous month to 153,400 tons.
The year-to-year volume comparison for November shows a 0.7% decline. Cumulatively, the U.S. centers have shipped 38.4 million tons of steel, a decrease of 0.8% from November 2012.
U.S. centers reported steel inventories of 7.98 million tons at the close of November, equal to a 2.6-month supply at current shipment rates.
In Canada, the steel shipments totaled 473,000 tons for the month, down 11.1% from October and down 4.5% from November 2012. The daily shipping rate is 23,700 tons, versus 24,200 for October.
For the first 11 months of 2013, Canadian service centers shipped 5.4 million tons of steel, a drop of 7.0% versus the 2012 result.
As for inventories, Canada’s service centers report 1.26 million tons available, equal to 2.7 months in stock at current delivery rates.
Aluminum Shipments, Reserves
In the aluminum market, U.S. service centers’ shipments fell 15.4% from October to November, totaling 114,900 tons for the month. The daily shipping rate is 5.7 tons, falling from 5.9 tons in October.
The cumulative total for 2013 is now 1.4 million tons, down 1.6% from the 11-month total for aluminum shipments in 2012.
U.S. centers’ aluminum inventories rose to 374,300 tons during November, 2.4% higher than the November 2012 total, and equal to 3.3 months’ supply at the current delivery rate.
Canadian service centers shipped 12,800 tons of aluminum in November, a drop of 9.2% from October and, incidentally, the only segment of the report in which the month-to-month comparison avoided a double-digit decline. The daily shipping rate remained essentially even with October at 6,000 tons/day, but the year-to-date total of 144,300 tons is down 2.9% from the January-November 2012 total.
Aluminum inventories at the Canadian centers now stands at 34,700 tons, down 11.7% from the November 2012 inventory total and equal to 2.7 months of supply at the current shipping rate.