Steel Mills

Steel Service Center Shipments Weaker than Expected

Written by John Packard

The Metal Service Center Institute (MSCI) released distributor shipment and inventories for the month of May on Monday of this week. In the MSCI press release they reported, “U.S. shipments of steel products decreased substantially in May compared to a year ago….” They went on to report, “In May 2015, U.S. service center steel shipments decreased by 12.6% from May 2014. Steel product inventories increased 11.0% over May a year ago. At the current shipping rate, this represents 2.8 months of supply in inventory.”

U.S. service centers shipped 3,126,100 net tons of all steel products. The May tonnage level was the lowest for any month so far this year. Based on a 20 day shipping month and the daily shipping rate was 164,000 tons per day.

Total steel inventories (all products) stood at 8,799,000 tons, down slightly from the prior month but 10.8 percent higher than one year ago.

Carbon Flat Rolled

Flat rolled shipments totaled 2,147,700 net tons, down 5.2 percent from the prior month and 12.7 percent compared to shipments made during May 2014. The daily shipment rate was 107,385 net tons.

The 3 year average daily shipping rate for May was 113,000 tons per day. This is what we used in our forecast presented to our Premium level members last month. The 107,385 ton per day rate, although disappointing to SMU, was a few thousand tons per day better than what we saw during May 2014.

Inventories ended the month at 5,713,200 tons or about 100,000 fewer tons than what we saw at the end of April. Based on the current shipment rate the number of months of material on the floor was as of the end of May 2.7 months. This is up from the 2.6 months reported in April and 2.5 months reported in March.

Carbon Plate

Domestic plate service centers shipped 351,800 tons of plate during the month of May 2015. Shipments were up 0.6 percent compared to the previous month but were down the same month last year by 4.9 percent.

Plate inventories stood at 1,145,600 tons as of the end of the month and were slightly lower than the 1,183,400 tons MSCI reported as of the end of April. Compared to one year ago they are 17.4 percent higher than year ago levels.

The number of months of inventory was 3.3 months at the end of May.

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