US service center supply falls to 31-month low

The volume of steel supply on hand at US service centers plummeted to 2.2 months in January from 2.8 months in December, according to Metals Service Center Institute data released Wednesday. Canadian steel supply at service centers followed a similar pattern.

The last time the inventory-to-shipment ratio, or supply on hand, reached 2.2 months was in May 2014.

At the end of January, service centers stocked 7.3 million st of steel, which was 8.3% lower year on year, and at the current shipping rate, represented 2.2 months of supply. In January 2016, service centers carried 8 million st of steel, representing 2.6 months of supply.

Service centers shipped 3.34 million st of steel in January, which was 9.4% higher than in January 2016.

Flat-rolled steel supply on hand dropped to 2 months in January from 2.7 months in December. Service centers carried 4.63 million st of flats at the end of January, which was 11.8% lower than January 2016.

Flat-rolled steel shipments from US service centers reached 2.27 million st in January, 9.7% higher year on year and the highest level seen since August.

Plate inventories totaled 737,400 st at the end of January, flat year on year and representing 2.5 months of supply. Plate shipments jumped 9.3% year on year to 291,800 st.

Structural steel inventories in January rose 6% year on year to 513,300 st, which represented 2.6 months of supply.

Service centers shipped 195,700 st of structural steel in January, up 11.6% year on year.

Bar inventories at the end of January totaled 483,900 st, down 2.4% year on year. Stocks of bar products represented 2.1 months of supply. Service centers shipped 226,300 st of bar products in January, up 10.7% year on year.

Pipe and tube stocks in January were down 18% year on year at 471,500 st. This represented 2.4 months of supply. Service centers shipped 194,800 st of pipe and tube in January, up 2.2% year on year.

Stainless steel stocks at US service centers rose 11.2% year on year to 465,300 st and represented 2.9 months of supply. Stainless steel shipments increased 9.9% year on year to 158,500 st in January.

Canadian service center inventories decreased 5.8% year on year to 1.18 million st in January. Based on shipment levels, January stocks equaled 2.9 months of supply. Canadian service centers shipped 411,800 st of steel in January, up 5.7% year on year. The Canadian figures include all steel products except structural, MSCI said.

Canadian service centers carried 742,400 st or 3.3 months of flat-rolled steel supply at the end of January. This was down 4.7% year on year. Canadian service centers shipped 224,400 st of flat-roll in January, up 1% year on year.

Estelle Tran, PLATTS