and Canadian service centers steel shipments were mixed
in September, rising from a year earlier but falling vs.
August, with the markets course unclear.
Some distributors saw
worse results than anticipated for the end of the third
"September was down by
over 20 percent from August for us," a source at one
Chicago-area flat-rolled distributor told AMM. "In
October, we are seeing a 5- to 10-percent reduction (in
shipments) from September."
A New York-area sheet
distributor said he hadnt yet detected a direct impact
from the government shutdown but believes demand is trailing
off as a result of that, as well as wrangling over the
governments debt ceiling. "I dont think anyone is
in the mood for higher numbers," he said, and that includes
pricing. "I dont think higher pricing is warranted, at
least based on demand."
A Mississippi Valley
distributor source said he hadnt bought any steel in more
than a week, but he has barge loads of domestic mill stock
arriving later than expected.
Two other warehouse
operators termed demand a mixed bag.
A coated sheet
distributor source said automotive remains positive "but the
housing market is hurting." The good news is that some products
he buys have returned to normal mill lead times, with no early
A lower Great Lakes
service center executive said some customers continue to sit on
their hands, buying material on a week-to-week basis. "As long
as uncertainty persists, theyll have conservative
purchasing practices," he said. "Demand is not lackluster, but
there is little growth. People are doing what they need to to
get by. Inventories are low and no one is sticking his neck
U.S. service centers
shipped 3.38 million tons of steel products in September, down
6.9 percent from 3.63 million tons the previous month, although
tons shipped per day improved 2.4 percent, according to Metals
Service Center Institute (MSCI) data released Oct. 15. Canadian
centers steel shipments totaled 474,900 tons last month,
down 0.8 percent from 478,700 tons in August, but average
per-day shipments were 3.9 percent higher in the same
shipments were up compared with the same month last year, with
U.S. centers logging a 9.8-percent gain from 3.01 million tons
and Canadian centers registering a 1.1-percent increase from
Inventories held by
U.S. service centers totaled 8.03 million tons (2.4
months supply at current shipping rates) at the end of
September, up 1.1 percent from 7.94 million tons (2.2
months supply) a month earlier, the MSCI data showed,
while Canadian inventories of 1.3 million tons (2.7
months supply) were down 6.6 percent from 1.39 million
tons (2.9 months supply).