June steel, aluminum shipments fall slightly

Following big gains in May, U.S. shipments of steel and aluminum see slight decline in June

U.S, shipments of steel and aluminum fell slightly in June, but the news was mixed in Canada, where steel shipments declined but aluminum shipments edged up, according to the most recent data from the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI). The report follows accelerated growth in May, when U.S. steel shipments and Canadian aluminum shipments saw double-digit growth.

MSCI’s monthly steel and aluminum activity reports are based on data from the group’s nearly 400 North American members, who inventory, process and distribute metals to manufacturing intermediaries and original equipment manufacturers.

U.S. Service Centers shipped 3.5 million tons of steel products in June, a decrease of 2% compared to year-ago levels. Year-to-date steel shipments were 22 million tons, a 6% increase over the same period in 2011. Steel product inventories rose 14% compared to the same period in 2011, but were down 0.7% compared to May. At the current shipping rate, this represents 2.6 months of supply in inventory, an increase of 16% from a year ago, the MSCI report said.

Looking at aluminum, U.S. service centers shipped 129,000 tons of aluminum products in June, a decrease of 4% from the same month in 2011. For 2012, year-to-date aluminum shipments were 793,000 tons, up 4% from the same period in 2011.

Inventories of aluminum products grew 7% compared to 2011, but fell 2% from last month. At the current shipping rate, this represents 2.9 months of supply in inventory, an increase of 12% from a year ago.

The story is similar in Canada, where service centers shipped 531,000 tons of steel products in June, a 0.8% decline compared to last year. Year-to-date shipments were 3.3 million tons, up 2% over 2011. Steel product inventories in Canada grew nearly 3% compared to last year, but fell nearly 3% compared to May. At the current shipping rate this represents three months of supply in inventory, an increase of 3.6% from a year ago.

Canadian service centers shipped 14,000 tons of aluminum products in June, a 1% decrease compared to 2011. Year-to-date, Canadian service centers shipped 83,000 tons, a 12% increase over last year.

Inventories of aluminum products in Canada grew nearly 15% from June a year ago and nearly 2% from last month. At the current shipping rate, this represents 2.7 months of supply in inventory, a 13% increase.

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