On a tons per day basis, shipments were 126.6, down 11.8% month on month, (m/m). December is traditionally a slower shipment month as inventories are lowered for tax reasons. On a three month moving average, (3MMA) basis, year to date, (YTD) year on year, (y/y) comparison, total carbon steel shipments increased by 7.0%. Bar & shapes and structural shipments led the advance, each recording double-digits percentage increases.
Table 1 shows percentage change results for shipments, daily intake and inventory level. In all cases the percentage change references 3MMA y/y. For shipments and inventory, three columns of data are listed offering 12, 24 and 36 month changes.
All products groups posted y/y increased shipments except Pipe & Tube which was down 0.4%. Bar & Shapes recorded the strongest growth, up 18.2%. Structurals, (> or = 3 inch) 3MMA y/y shipments grew by 11.2%. Plate shipments were up 8.2%, while Sheet deliveries moved-up, 6.1%. Bar and Shapes shipments had a strong month helped by a 30.8% surge in alloy bar shipments, a 14.1%, bump for cold finished and a 16.0% increase in special bar quality, (SBQ). Merchant bars shipments posted an increase of 6.0%.
Overall inventory levels moved-up 7.7%, 3MMA y/y. Pipe & Tube inventory was the only product group to post a decline, down 1.0% y/y. Sheet inventory was up 7.7% and Structural inventory was higher by 6.0% y/y. Inventory jumped by 12.3% y/y for Bar & Shapes and was higher by 6.8% y/y for Plate. Months on hand stood at 2.46 overall on a 3MMA look, ranging from a low of 2.40 for Sheet products to a high of 2.89 for Plate.
Intake was higher across the board, (+12.5%) except for Pipe & Tube which declined by 9.5%, 3MMA y/y. Bar and Shapes intake surged by 17.4%, as Sheet moved-up by 12.8%. Structurals also had strong intake, up 11.2%, while Plate intake moved higher by 10.6%.
Figure 1 shows the shipment history for all carbon steel as a percent of the peak market in June 2006, (2006 = 1.00). For the year 2017, the percentages ranges from a low of 57% in January to a peak of 65% in the March through July period. The year ending value was 60%. For comparison, in 2016 the same monthly values were 57% in January, 61% for March, April and May, 63% in June and 61% in July. The year ending value was 56%. So 2017 was clearly had a better shipping performance than 2016.
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.