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STEEL SERVICE CENTER SHIPMENTS REMAIN STEADY IN APRIL

 CLEVELAND, May 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The Steel Service Center Institute (SSCI) today reported that April average daily shipments for the nation's $24 billion steel service center industry increased slightly, following a strong first quarter.
 According to the latest Business Conditions Report of the SSCI, the average daily shipping rate for April rose 0.6 percent from March, with three of seven product categories posting gains.
 Average daily shipments of carbon tubing experienced the largest increase from March levels, up 6.7 percent, followed by lesser gains in structurals and carbon flat rolled products, up 3.8 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. Average daily shipments of alloy products and carbon plate registered declines of 0.7 percent and 3.7 percent, followed by carbon bars and stainless steel products, down 4.8 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively.
 "Service center shipments returned to pre-1991 levels in January -- over 90,000 tons per day -- and have remained constant through four months," said Andrew G. Sharkey, SSCI president. "Inventories, however, have remained low, reflecting caution in what appears to be a slow and risky economic recovery."
 Compared to April 1992, this month's average daily shipping rate for all products was up 11.1 percent, with all seven product categories posting significant increases over a year ago. Alloy products (up 21.7 percent), carbon tubing (up 16.1 percent) and plate products (up 14.2 percent) registered the greatest increases.
 For the year-to-date (four months), the service center average daily shipping rate is running 9.5 percent ahead of last year's pace, according to SSCI.
 Recent monthly surveys, by both the SSCI and the National Association of Purchasing Managers (NAPM), reveal that optimism among service center executives and purchasing managers is waning regarding economic activity and incoming orders over the next three months.
 "There is some erosion in confidence among steel service center executives following relatively high levels of optimism early in the first quarter," said Sharkey. "Although the more conservative opinions toward the next three months are typical for a seasonal slowdown, the results may hint at a broader erosion in the overall economy."
 In April, total inventories were at 5,842,173 tons, compared to 5,781,950 tons in March, an increase of only 60,000 tons. April's ending inventory also increased slightly to 2.87 months of supply, compared to 2.74 months of supply in March, but continues to remain at record low levels. One year ago, the inventory-to-shipments ratio stood at 3.20 months of supply.
 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.
 April Total Average Daily Shipping Rate
 Up 0.6 percent compared to March, 1993.
 Up 11.1 percent compared to April, 1992.
 Up 9.5 percent year-to-date (4 months).
 April Total Ending Inventory
 April, 1993: 2.87 months' supply.
 March, 1993: 2.74 months' supply.
 April, 1992: 3.20 months' supply.
 -0- 5/21/93
 /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 -- CL002 -- 1073 05/21/93 08:01 EDT
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Date:May 21, 1993
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