The slowdown in metals shipments that has marked the second half of the year resumed in November, as service centers in both the United States and Canada posted declines in steel and aluminum shipments during the month. The results stand in contrast to a rise in such shipments in October, according to the most recent monthly data released by the Metals Service Center Institute this week.
In the United States, metals service centers shipped just less than 3 million tons of steel products in November, a 6% decline compared to the same period in 2011. Year-to-date shipments were about 39 million tons, a 2.5% increase over the same period a year ago. Inventories of steel products rose during the month compared to year-ago levels.
Looking at aluminum products, U.S. service centers shipped 109,000 tons, a nearly 10% decrease compared to November 2011. Year-to-date aluminum shipments rose slightly—0.3%--compared to 2011. Aluminum product inventories also rose during the month—nearly 2% above year-ago levels.
Results were similar in Canada, where service centers shipped nearly 500,000 tons of steel products, a 7% decline from year-ago levels. Year-to-date steel shipments of nearly 6 million tons represented a nearly 2% decrease compared to last year. Canadian service centers saw a 24% rise in steel inventories during the month compared to November 2011.
Canadian service centers shipped more than 13,000 tons of aluminum products in November, a 0.9% decline compared to year-ago levels. Year-to-date aluminum shipments rose nearly 9% in Canada. Inventories rose 11% in November.
The news followed a decline in the Purchasing Manager’s Index for November as well. Earlier this month, the Institute for Supply Management said its PMI—a key indicator in the manufacturing sector as well as the overall economy—fell more than 2% compared to October, registering 49.5%. This is the fourth time in six months that the index has fallen below the 50-point threshold indicating growth; it also marks the PMI’s lowest level since July 2009.