North American metals service centers generally improved their shipment levels during July, following several consecutive months of declining volumes for shipments of steel and aluminum products.

Data on shipments and inventories of steel and aluminum products at service centers in the U.S. and Canada are compiled by the Metals Service Center Institute, based on information supplied by participating service centers in the U.S. and Canada.

MSCI noted that July marked a break in “the pattern of consistent monthly decline of U.S. steel and aluminum shipments;” while in Canada shipment levels continued to decline at much slower rates.

U.S. service centers shipped 3,464,100 tons of steel products during July, a 3.5% improvement in tonnage over June’s shipments, and a 5.3% rise over the July 2012 total. U.S. centers’ year-to-date shipments of steel products was 3,411,300 tons, a 3.3% decline from the July 2012 result.

Steel inventory levels at U.S. centers were reported to be 1,426,600 tons at the close of the month, falling 1.3% from June and dropping 12.2% from the July 2012 inventory total, and representing a 3.2-month supply at the current shipping rate.

Steel shipments by Canada’s service centers rose 1.3% from June to July, to 459,400 tons. The new total signified a decline of 2.4% from July 2012, and brings the year-to-date volume to 3,411,300 tons, down by 9.6% versus the January-July 2012 shipment total.

Canada’s centers had inventories of steel that totaled 1,462,600 at the end of July, down 1.5% from June, and off the year-ago pace by 10.5%. This new total represents a 3.2-month supply at the Canadian service centers’ current rate of steel shipments.