April 16, 2008

Steel, Aluminum Shipments Drop Sharply

April 16, 2008

Steel, Aluminum Shipments Drop Sharply

ROLLING MEADOWS, Illinois, April 16, 2008 – The slowing North American economy overwhelmed the normally positive seasonal business pattern for steel and aluminum in March, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows. With metals service centers tightly managing inventories, U.S. sales of steel and aluminum fell at double digit rates from those of March 2007, while Canadian steel sales also dropped sharply.

Service center inventories, which normally expand this time of year in response to market demand, instead were flat to lower from February levels and remained well below year-ago levels.

Steel Product Activity

U.S. steel shipments were down 11.2% from March 2007, to 4.25 million tons. First-quarter shipments of nearly 13.1 million tons were 4.8% below those of the 2007 quarter. Steel inventories at the end of the month totaled nearly 12.1 million tons, 18.6% lower than at the end of March a year ago and equal, at current shipping rates, to a 2.8-month supply.

Canadian steel shipments for March of 298,500 tons were 12.7% lower than a year ago, and first-quarter volume of 956,300 tons was 3.0% below last year. Canadian steel inventories of 1.1 million tons were down 10.2% from March 2007 and, at current shipping rates, represent a 3.7-month supply.

Aluminum Product Activity

March shipments of aluminum products from U.S. service centers dropped 17.7% from the same month a year ago, to 90,500 tons. First-quarter aluminum shipments of 283,100 tons were down 9.1% from the year-ago quarter. U.S. aluminum inventories at the end of March of 286,600 tons were down 21.4% from the 2007 quarter and represented a 3.2-month supply.

Canadian shipments of aluminum products fell 2.7% in March, to 10,400 tons, while first-quarter shipments of 30,600 tons were up 0.2% from the year-ago quarter. Inventories at the end of March of 28,100 tons were down 4.6% and, at current sales rates, represented a 2.7-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.


Chris Marti, vice president, research (847) 485-3009

Steve Weiner (847) 485-3011