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STEEL SERVICE CENTER SHIPMENTS EXPERIENCE MODEST SEASONAL DECLINE

 CLEVELAND, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a solid first-half performance, the nation's $24 billion steel service center industry today reported that average daily shipments for July experienced an expected seasonal decline -- this according to the latest Business Conditions Report of the Steel Service Center Institute (SSCI).
 In July, the average daily shipping rate dropped 4.3 percent from June, due to reported declines in six of seven product categories. Average daily shipments of carbon flat rolled reflected the largest decline from June levels, down 6.7 percent. Carbon bars and plate products dropped 4.7 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively, followed by a 2.8 percent decrease in both alloys and stainless steel products. Carbon tubing also was down 2.4 percent. The only gain was in carbon structurals, which posted a modest increase of 3.2 percent over June levels. July had 21 shipping days -- one fewer than the previous month.
 "The 4.3 percent decline in average daily shipments was expected, due primarily to the summer seasonal slow-down," said Gertrude Scott, SSCI acting president. "The modest decline follows six solid months of service center shipments, which continue to remain well above 1991 and 1992 levels."
 Compared to July 1992, this month's average daily shipping rate for all products was up 6.2 percent, with five of seven product categories posting gains. Carbon flat rolled and alloys recorded the most significant increases of 12.3 percent and 11.1 percent, respectively, while only carbon plate and structurals dropped slightly.
 For the year-to-date (seven months), the service center average daily shipping rate is running 9.3 percent ahead of last year's pace, with no product decreases.
 A monthly opinion survey of service center executives taken in early August suggests a growing degree of optimism toward general economic activity and incoming orders during the third quarter. However, this outlook is in stark contrast to the opinions shared by the Steel Committee of the National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM), where a growing number of respondents believe that incoming orders in the next three months will decrease or remain unchanged.
 "Differing opinions should sound a note of caution, as steel users report a less optimistic view of their incoming orders for the next three months," said Scott.
 Total inventories remained steady at 6,219,413 tons in July, compared to June's level of 6,212,773 tons. July's inventory-to- shipments ratio increased to its highest levels in 1993 -- 3.23 months of supply -- compared to 2.94 months of supply in June. One year ago, the inventory-to-shipments ratio stood at 3.15 months of supply.
 "The three month inventory build appears to have leveled off at 6.2 million tons," said Scott, "and will likely remain in this range throughout 1993."
 The Steel Service Center Institute is a trade association representing the interests of the steel service center industry. America's steel service centers purchase and distribute about 30 percent of all carbon industrial steel products and nearly 45 percent of all stainless steel produced in the United States.
 Steel service centers are the largest-single customer group of the domestic steel industry and serve the metal supply needs of more than 300,000 manufacturers and fabricators through plant locations nationwide. Because SSCI reports the scope and level of business activity as it relates to a wide cross section of industrial America, its Business Conditions Report is considered an excellent barometer for the state of the economy.
 July Total Average Daily Shipping Rate
 Down 4.3 percent compared to June, 1993.
 Up 6.2 percent compared to July, 1992.
 Up 9.3 percent year-to-date (7 months).
 July Total Ending Inventory
 July, 1993: 3.23 months' supply.
 June, 1993: 2.94 months' supply.
 July, 1992: 3.15 months' supply.
 -0- 8/23/93
 /CONTACT: Mark Willis of Watt, Roop & Co., 216-566-7019, for the Steel Service Center Institute/


CO: Steel Service Center Institute ST: Ohio IN: MNG SU:

AR -- CL001 -- 4902 08/23/93 08:02 EDT
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Date:Aug 23, 1993
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