Steel distributors wary despite shipment rise

Feb 19, 2013 | 05:12 PM | Corinna Petry

Tags  Metals Service Center Institute, steel shipments, steel inventories, flat-rolled market, supply, demand, pricing, competition steel

CHICAGO — North American steel shipments rose in January, but steel distributors’ expectations for the first quarter remain tempered due to a sluggish economy and an anemic pricing recovery.

U.S. and Canadian distributors’ steel shipments jumped a combined 45.2 percent in January vs. a very weak December while inventories rose 1.2 percent month on month, according to the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI).

On a per-day basis, Canadian steel shipments rose 40.2 percent and U.S. shipments rose 30.8 percent.

"Business continues to be the same, with a little uptick in February shipments. ... But I would characterize (the steel market) as running sluggishly. Pricing continues to be muted. Lead times are short for flat-rolled (steel). Mills tried to raise the price, unsuccessfully," the vice president of a national full-line steel service center chain said.....

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