Estimates just released by the Aluminum Association show an increase in demand for the metal increased year-on-year by 1.4% in April in the United States and Canada.
According to the numbers, shipments by domestic producers plus imports of aluminium totaled 2.257 billion pounds in the fourth month of the year. Demand for semi-fabricated aluminium increased by 1.9% year-on-year, totaling 1.618 billion pounds. Apparent consumption, which is demand minus exports, also rose year-on-year, totaling 2.002 billion pounds, a 1.6% increase over April 2016. Apparent consumption is on a steady upward clip through April, up by 4.1% year-on-year and totaling 8.142 billion pounds.
Production numbers show that the rising demand is being met increasingly by overseas smelters, while domestic smelters are finding it more and more difficult to find buyers overseas. Excluding cross-border trade, ingot and mill product exports were down year-on-year in April by 0.5% to 255 million pounds. Exports over the first four months of 2017 totaled 956 million pounds, a drop of 6.1% from the first four months of 2016. In addition, imports rose in April by 11% year-on-year, totaling 727 million pounds. Shipments of extrusions dropped off by 2.3% year-on-year in April, totaling 467.5 million pounds as well.
A bright spot for producers in the month of April was the over-3% rise in shipments of aluminium sheet and plate, tipping the scales at 893.4 million pounds. Also in the black were shipments of aluminium ingots for casting, exports and other uses, which was up almost 1% year-on-year in April, totaling 639 million pounds.
Inventories held on hand by producers again dropped below three billion pounds in the month of April, coming to 2.916 billion pounds, a 1.1% increase over March. However, this total is a 2.1% drop over the total inventory recorded in April 2016.
Traffic in ingots, scrap aluminium, and mill products was up in both directions during April, with imports of the same up by 12.5% year-on-year, totaling 785 million pounds. Exports were up 8.8% year-on-year in April to 522 million pounds, of which scrap aluminium made up just slightly over half of the total. When scrap aluminium is removed from the numbers, exports totaled 255 million pounds, a year-on-year drop of under one percent.