Aluminum, steel shipments see accelerated growth in May

June 26, 2012
Metals activity, inventory positions improve in the United States and Canada, according Metals Service Center Institute members

May shipments of aluminum and steel accelerated in both the United States and Canada compared to April, according to the Metals Service Center Institute’s monthly shipment data. MSCI said inventory positions improved slightly in both countries, as well.

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 3.8 million tons of steel products in May, up nearly 10% compared to May of 2011. Year to date, steel shipments rose nearly 8% to 18.6 million tons. Inventories rose nearly 10% compared to the year-ago period, but declined slightly compared to April 2012. As of mid-June’s shipping rate, the inventory levels represent 2.4 months of supply.

U.S. service centers shipped 136,000 tons of aluminum products in May, up nearly 7% compared to the same period a year ago. Year-to-date, aluminum shipments rose nearly 6% to 664,000 tons. Inventories of aluminum products rose to 386,000 tons at the end of May—a 6% increase over May 2011 and a 2% increase over the previous month. As of mid-June’s shipping rate, this represents 2.8 months of inventory.

The story is similar in Canada, where service centers shipped 573,000 tons of steel products in May, up nearly 9% compared to May 2011. Year-to-date, Canadian steel shipments hit 2.8 million, an increase of nearly 3% compared to the same period in 2011. Canadian steel inventories were 1.7 million at the end of May, up 7% compared to the same period a year ago and down 3% compared to the previous month—and representing 2.9 months of supply at the current shipping rate in mid-June.

Aluminum shipments in Canada accelerated in May as well, reaching 15,000 tons—an increase of 17% compared to May 2011. Year-to-date, aluminum shipments were 70,000 tons, up 14% compared to 2011. Inventories of aluminum products were 36,000 tons, up 18% compared to the year-ago period and up nearly 3% compared to April—representing 2.5 months of supply.

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About the Author

Victoria Fraza Kickham | Distribution Editor

Victoria Kickham is the distribution editor for Electronic Design magazine, SourceESB and, where she covers issues related to the electronics supply chain. Victoria started out as a general assignment reporter for several Boston-area newspapers before joining Industrial Distribution magazine, where she spent 14 years covering industrial markets. She served as ID’s managing editor from 2000 to 2010. Victoria has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in English from Northeastern University.