If the numbers tell the story, then this story looks like a good one for metal service centers.
According to Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) data, 2013 ended on a very positive note for steel and aluminum shipments from US service centers.
December’s higher numbers pushed 2013’s overall shipments of both steel and aluminum to the same level that was seen in 2012. Even though steel shipments saw a year-over-year drop in November, they rebounded mightily in December before the start of the new year.
From what we’ve been seeing and hearing, steel prices dipped slightly at the end of the year, and perhaps that’s one reason buyers had taken advantage before 2014 began. Flat-rolled products hadn’t experienced big movements during the month of December. According to MetalMiner’s forecasting department, prices are in a bull market since June of this year, and this uptrend is still in force, but losing buying momentum. This loss of momentum makes us wonder how long this trend will last.
Inventories: The Other Side of the Equation
Interestingly, steel inventories in Q4 2013 are lower than the corresponding period in 2012, which gives us a bit of insight into slightly higher steel prices, at least in the short term. Meanwhile, aluminum inventories appear to be on a trending upswing…
What This Means for Metal Buyers
Metal distribution within the United States remains a critical means for how US manufacturers obtain metal products. We have seen numerous reports on the percentage of metal that flows through distribution. Insiders peg the number between 40-45%.
That means nearly all US manufacturers have some type of supply relationship with a service center.
If you work for a service center, MetalMiner would love to get some more details about your company’s business, and especially your answer to this question: “What makes your service center great?”
Right now we’re conducting a survey, and based on these responses, we’ll compile a definitive list – “Top 25 US Metal Service Centers: A Buyer’s Guide.” More details on the benefits of the guide here.
To take the survey, just fill out the quick form below!