May 18, 2020

COVID-19 Wipes Out Metals Shipment Gains Made Since Last Recession


  • According the Metals Service Center Institute’s Metals Activity Report, metal shipments in the US and in Canada fell at double digit levels in April due to the effects of COVID-19, eliminating gains made since the last recession. Specifically, U.S. service center steel shipments in April 2020 decreased by 31.3 percent from April 2019. Shipments of aluminum products decreased by 32.2 percent from the same month in 2019. Canadian service center steel shipments in April 2020 decreased by 40.6 percent from April 2019 while shipments of aluminum products were down 33 percent.
  • According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales in Canada fell 9.2 percent to $50.8 billion in March. This reading was worse than the market expectation for a 5.7 percent drop.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. industrial production declined 11.2 percent in April, the largest monthly decline in the index’s 101-year history, and was down 15 percent between April 2019 and April 2020. Manufacturing output dropped 13.7 percent, its largest decline on record. Capacity utilization fell 8.3 points to 64.9. Capacity utilization fell 8.3 points to 64.9.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said activity continued to deteriorate in May. Its headline manufacturing index remains well below zero at -48.5. The new orders index rose 23.9 points to -42.4; the shipments index rose 29.1 points to -39.0; and the index for number of employees rose 49.2 points to -6.1.
  • In other economic news: U.S. business inventories fell 0.2 percent in March and were down 0.3 percent while manufacturers’ sales declined 5.2 percent in March and 5.6 percent year-over-year; initial jobless claims fell 195,000 to 2,981,000 in the United States and the four-week moving average fell 564,000 to 3,616,500; the U.S. Producer Price Index fell 1.3 percent in April, the largest decline since the series began in December 2009, and is down 1.2 percent year-over-year; and the U.S. Consumer Price Index fell 0.4 for the month, the largest monthly decline dating back to 1957, but was up 1.4 percent from last year.