Falling inventories for steel and aluminum are beginning to come “into line” with service centers’ current shipment rates, according to the Metals Service Center Institute.

Metal Centers' Shipments Decline Continued in December

Jan. 25, 2016
North American service centers’ shipments of steel and aluminum products declined in December 2015, and inventory levels continued to fall.

Shipments of steel and aluminum produces by North America’s metal service centers declined from November to December, as well as by comparison to the December 2014 totals, and the 12-month totals also reflected the ongoing decline in industrial demand.  The Metals Service Center Institute’s Metals Activity Report also indicated inventory levels continue to decline, “slowly coming into line with current shipment levels,” according to MSCI.

The trade association’s monthly Metals Activity Report details steel and aluminum shipments and inventories for service centers in the U.S. and Canada. Service center shipments represent a substantial volume of the metals consumed by machine shops and fabricators, and the activities at those operations are a reflection of industrial activity in the North America.

In December, U.S. service center’s steel shipments totaled 2.78 million tons, down 2.9% from the November shipment total, and down 11.4% from the December 2014 total. With December’s results, the 12-month total for steel shipments by U.S. service centers rose to 39,859,700, which is down 7.5% from the 12-month total for 2014.

Steel product inventories fell to 8,300,600 tons, down from 8.5 million tons reported for November, and 16.2% less than the December 2014 inventory total. At the current shipment rate, MSCI estimated U.S. service centers’ steel inventories represent a 3.0-month supply.

In Canada, service centers’ December steel shipments declined to 302,700 tons, down 24.1% from November and 19.2% less than the December 2014 shipment total. The 12-month total was 5,146,500, down 9.8% from the January-December 2014 total.

Steel inventories at Canadian centers increased from November, up to 1,297,000, but that figure is 21.7% less than the December 2014 inventory total. At the current delivery rate, MSCI estimated that Canadian service centers are holding a 4.3-month supply of steel.

U.S. service centers shipped 112,100 tons of aluminum products during December, only slightly less than during November but 3.5% less than during December 2014. The 12-month total for service centers’ aluminum shipments was 1,573,400 tons, or 1.1% less than the 12-month total for 2014.

Inventories of aluminum products at U.S. service centers total 393,300 tons at the end of December, up about 3,000 tons from November but 3.3% less than the December 2014 inventory total. At their current shipping rate, MSCI estimated that U.S. service centers are carrying a 3.5-month supply of aluminum.

Canada’s service centers shipped 8,700 tons of aluminum during December, which was 25.0% less tan their November shipments and 16.7% less than their December 2014 shipment total. The January-December 2015 aluminum shipment total was 156,400 tons, 2.8% less than the 12-month total for 2014.

Aluminum inventories declined about 1,400 tons from November to 34,300 tons total at service centers across Canada, which is 16.0% less than the comparable figure for December 2014. At their current shipment rate, Canadian service centers are estimated to be holding a 3.9-month supply of inventory.

Canadian service center aluminum shipments in December decreased 16.7% from the same month in 2014. Inventories of aluminum products decreased 16.0% from December a year ago.

American Machinist is an IndustryWeek companion site within Penton's Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.

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