Total steel and flat rolled inventories declined during the month of March according to just released data provided by the Metal Service Center Institute (MSCI).
U.S. steel service centers shipped a total of 3,333,300 tons of steel products during the month of March. Based on a 23 shipping days this equates to a 144,900 tons per day shipment rate (22 days = 151,500 tons per day – Good Friday was in March this year and many service centers were not shipping that day). The 144,900 tons per day rate was 9.2 percent lower than March 2015.
Total inventories (all products) totaled 7,684,600 tons down 158,200 tons from the prior month and 19.6 percent lower than what we saw one year ago. (Just about all of the decrease in inventories can be attributed to carbon flat rolled which was down 161,000 tons). The months on hand dropped from 2.5 in February to 2.3 months at the end of March. One year ago the months on hand was 2.6.
Carbon Flat Rolled
Distributors in the United States shipped 2,228,300 tons of sheet (carbon flat rolled) during the month of March. Shipments improved based on total tons but, on a daily shipment rate basis they dropped from 102,600 tons per day to 96,900 tons per day. If you drop one shipping day for Good Friday the daily shipment rate was 101,300 tons per day slightly less than the 102,600 tons per day reported during the month of February. Flat rolled shipments were 6.7 percent lower than one year ago.
Flat rolled inventories dropped to 4,992,900 tons, down 161,000 tons compared to February 2016 levels. Inventories were 15.0 percent lower than year ago levels. The number of months on hand declined from 2.4 at the end of February to 2.2 at the end of March.
As flat rolled inventories now fall they are putting pressure on service centers to build inventories which is pushing out lead times and keeping pressure on flat rolled steel prices.
Shipments of steel plate out of U.S. service centers totaled 305,600 tons at a daily shipment rate of 13,300 tons per day (23 day month – 13,890 tons based on a 22 day month). Shipments were 20.9 percent lower than year ago levels.
Inventories of plate rose slightly to 729,000 tons but were 39.8 percent lower than the 1,211,900 tons carried by distributors one year ago. The number of months of plate inventory on hand dropped by 2.5 in February to 2.4 months at the end of March.
Pipe and Tube
Distributors shipped 217,500 tons of pipe and tube during the month of March 2016. The daily shipment rate was 9,500 tons (9,900 tons based on a 22 day month). The tonnage shipped was 8.4 percent lower than year ago levels.
Plate inventories stood at 555,900 tons which is slightly lower than the end of February levels. Plate inventories are 18.2 percent less than year ago levels. The number of months on hand dropped from 2.8 to 2.6 months (M-O-M).
John PackardRead more from John Packard
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