U.S. service center total carbon steel shipments fell by 12.3% month on month (m/m), however, September had three less shipping days than August. On a tons per day basis, September came in at 144.4, 0.9% higher than August. On a three month moving average, (3MMA) basis, year to date, (YTD) metric, total carbon steel shipments increased by 2.8%.
Table 1 shows percentage change results for shipments, daily intake and inventory level. In all cases the percentage change references 3MMA year on year (y/y). For shipments and inventory, three columns of data are listed offering 12, 24 and 36 month changes.
All products groups except Pipe & Tube posted year on year increases in shipments. Bar & Shapes recorded the strongest growth y/y, up 17.6%, 3MMA y/y. Structurals, (> or = 3 inch) 3MMA y/y shipments grew by 9.2%. Plate shipments were up 5.3% 3MMA y/y, as Sheet deliveries moved-up, 1.0%, 3MMA y/y. Pipe & Tube posted a decline of 2.7% 3MMA y/y. Bar and Shapes shipments had a strong month helped by a 43.0%, 3MMA y/y surge in alloy bar shipments, a 25.0%, 3MMA y/y bump for cold finished and a 11.5% increase in special bar quality, (SBQ). Merchant bars shipments pulled the average down somewhat, falling 9.1%, 3MMA y/y.
Figure 1 shows shipment history from 2007 to present as a percent of the peak level shipments in the 2007, (set at 100%) timeframe. This gives us a gauge of where we are relative to the peak market. All product group are trending higher in 2017 after a prolonged downward trend that began in 2014 and lasted through the end of 2016. Sheet shipment were at 77% of the peak in September exhibiting the strongest recovery of all product groups, followed by Plate at 63.8%. From this chart it is clear that flat products have exhibited a more robust recovery than long products. Pipe & Tube stood at 61.5% of the peak market in September, followed by 56.3% for Structurals and 54.7% for Bar & Shapes.
Overall inventory levels moved-up 1.8%, 3MMA y/y, as pipe & tube tumbled 7.3% y/y, Sheet was up 0.5% and Structural inventory was higher by 8.1% y/y. Inventory jumped by 12.1% y/y for Bar & Shapes and was higher by 4.7% y/y for plate.
Intake was higher across the board, up 8.8%, 3MMA y/y. Bar and Shapes intake surged by 27.7%, followed by a 17.0% jump for Structurals. Plate intake increased by 12.5%, Sheet by 5.9% and Pipe & Tube by 1.3%.
At Gerdau we scrutinize the MSCI release every month searching for clues on the industry’s performance. It’s important to us as a significant supplier of long steel products to our service center customers. It’s equally important to keep our steel consuming consumers informed.