May 16, 2008

Steel, Aluminum Shipments Rise in the U.S and Canada

May 16, 2008

Steel, Aluminum Shipments Rise in the U.S and Canada

ROLLING MEADOWS, Illinois, May 16, 2008 – Steel and aluminum shipments from U.S. and Canadian metals service centers rebounded in April from unseasonably low levels in March, with year-over-year shipment increases in nearly all metals categories. Inventories of both metals remained at levels well below total stocks at the end of April 2007 and were down, as well, from inventories reported at the end of March 2008, with one important exception, the Metals Activity Report from the Metals Service Center Institute shows.

The one exception was inventories of steel products in the United States, which rose slightly, to 12.4 million tons, or 2.6% above U.S. steel stocks at the end of March. Metals customers appear to buy only when they need product, and service centers have maintained inventories closely aligned with demand.

Steel Product Activity

Shipments of steel products from U.S. service centers rose 3.3% in April, to 4.65 million tons, compared with April 2007. For the year to date, shipments of 17.7 million tons were down 2.8% from volume during the first four months of 2007. Month-end inventories of 12.4 million tons were 15.1% lower than April 2007 stockpiles and, at current shipping rates, represented a 2.7-month supply.

Steel product shipments from Canadian metals service centers totaled 328,400 tons, a 6.6% increase from shipments in April 2007. Steel shipments for the first four months of 2008 totaled 1.28 million tons, a decline of 0.7% from the same period a year ago. Steel inventories held by Canadian service centers at the end of April totaled almost 1.1 million tons, or 15.2% below year-earlier levels and, at current shipping rates, equal to a 3.3-month supply.

Aluminum Product Activity

Shipments of aluminum products from U.S. metals service centers rose in April to 95,400 tons, or 1.5% more than the amount shipped in April 2007. Shipments for the first four months of the year totaled 378,500 tons of aluminum, a decline of 6.7% from a year ago. At the end of April, U.S. service centers held aluminum inventories of 285,100 tons, down 19.2% from the end of April 2007 and, at current shipping rates, equal to a 3.0-month supply.

Canadian shipments of aluminum products totaled 10,600 tons in April, or 9.4% more than during April 2007. The year-to-date shipment total of 41,200 tons was 2.4% above the same period in 2007. Canadian aluminum inventories totaled 27,400 tons at the end of April, down 8.2% from a year ago and, at current shipping rates, equal to a 2.6-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