North America’s metals service centers registered some sharp declines in shipments of steel and aluminum from August to September, and yet the year-on-year comparisons were mostly positive, allowing the Metals Service Center Institute to label the results a “modest recovery” in its latest Metals Activity Report. The trade association prepares the monthly summary of steel and aluminum shipments from data reported by member companies in the U.S. and Canada.

“September U.S. shipments of both steel and aluminum displayed their highest year-over-year growth yet in 2013,” MSCI noted, and “Canadian shipments returned to a small positive growth rate, as well.”

Notwithstanding these points, the atmosphere is one of uncertainty, as U.S. centers reported slightly higher inventories for both steel and aluminum than in the previous month, and Canadian centers reduced their stocks of steel but kept aluminum at steady levels.