Steel service center shipments slip MSCI

Dec 16, 2010 | 01:44 PM |

U.S. and Canadian service centers shipped almost 3.5 million tons of steel last month, down 0.3 percent from October, though daily shipments increased 3.2 percent because there was one less shipping day due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Inventories shrank 2 percent to 8.57 million tons in the same comparison, according to the Metals Service Center Institute's latest metals activity report.

But November's total volume decline may not fully reflect what was going on at flat-rolled distributors last month. Service center executives told AMM on Thursday that they had anticipated price increases and "bought heavy" but acknowledged that others will be caught short with no way into the mill order books until February. Those tons, they said, will be bought at a premium.

"We are so bullish on pricing that we told our people to stop selling for the rest of this year," a Gulf Coast service center president said. "Fortunately, we have enough inventory. We were buying pretty heavy (in November) because we thought we had seen the bottom on pricing." Going forward, "we think January and the first quarter will be wonderful (for profits). And I don't normally use such superlatives.," he said.....

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