CHICAGO U.S. and Canadian aluminum demand and production rose in early 2013 even as an index for new orders registered a significant year-over-year decline, according to Aluminum Association data.
U.S. and Canadian aluminum demandshipments by domestic producers plus importsincreased to 3.91 billion pounds in the first two months of 2013, up 1.4 percent from the same period last year, while apparent domestic consumption (demand minus exports) rose 2.2 percent to roughly 3.25 billion pounds.
Demand for semifabricated mill products inched up 1.7 percent to about 2.54 billion pounds, the Arlington, Va.-based group said.
On the trade front, exports of aluminum ingot and mill productsexcluding cross-border tradeslipped 2.3 percent to approximately 656 million pounds, and imports dipped 0.6 percent to about 710 million pounds.
Producer inventories totaled around 2.63 billion pounds at the end of February, up 1.6 percent from a month earlier and 13 percent higher than a year ago, the association said.
Primary aluminum production in North America was running at an annual rate of about 5.04 million tonnes last month, down 9,078 tonnes from February but up 4.8 percent from an annual production rate of around 4.81 million tonnes in March 2012, the association said.
Actual production totaled 1.24 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2013, up 3.7 percent from the first three months of last year.
But the Aluminum Associations index of new orders for aluminum mill products tumbled 6.5 percent in March compared with a year earlier, with orders for flat-rolled products falling 6.5 percent, extruded products dropping 6.8 percent and drawing stock sliding 5.4 percent. First-quarter orders fell by an average of 4.4 percent from a year ago, the association said.