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December 21, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada: U.S., Canadian Steel, Aluminum Shipments

  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that U.S. service center steel shipments fell 8.1 between November 2014 and November 2015. Steel product inventories were down seven percent year-over-year. U.S. shipments of aluminum products were down 3.3 percent between November 2014 and November 2015 while inventories dropped two percent during the same period. In Canada, steel product shipments were down 11.3 percent from November 2014 to November 2015 and inventories dropped 19.1 percent. Aluminum shipments in Canada fell 12.9 percent year-over-year while inventories declined 10.7 percent. MSCI’s report was featured in IndustryWeek
  • According to IndustryWeek, the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) Foundation estimates U.S. manufacturing production will expand 2.6 percent in 2016, three percent in 2017 and 2.8 percent in 2018. All three readings were down slightly from its previous forecasts. Foundation Chief Economist Daniel Meckstroth said, “The growth driver for the outlook is continued strong employment growth, which creates new income growth and a solid base of consumer spending. Another impetus is easy credit availability, which propels big-ticket spending for motor vehicles, residential housing, and nonresidential construction.” The foundation predicted the iron and steel industries will continue to face harsh headwinds.
  • Industrial production in the United States fell 0.6 percent in November as utilities’ output dropped 4.3 percent and mining production fell 1.1 percent. Manufacturing activity was level from October to November. Overall industrial production was down 1.2 percent from November 2014.
  • Manufacturing sales in Canada dropped for the third month in a row, declining 1.1 percent from September to October. A 5.7 percent decline in petroleum and coal product sales, a 4.6 percent drop in machinery sales and a 10.3 percent decline in aerospace products and part sales weighed heavily on the reading. Sales of primary metals were down 2.4 percent.
  • Wholesale trade in Canada fell 0.6 percent from September 2015 to October 2015, the fourth straight month the reading has declined. Analysts were expecting a 0.1 percent increase. Wholesale sales were down 0.6 percent while inventories rose 0.5 percent. According to The Wall Street Journal, CIBC World Markets Economic Nick Exarhos said the reading indicated fourth quarter growth would be slower than expected.
  • Readings for the various manufacturing regions in the United States are weak so far this month. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced last week its index increased to -4.6 in December from -10.6 in November as shipments rose for the first time since this summer. (New orders continued to decline, however, as did the employment readings.) The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City announced its index for the Midwest fell to -9 in December from +1 in November as activity in both the durable and nondurable goods markets declined. Readings for production, shipments, new orders and employment all fell in the Midwest region. Finally, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia announced its manufacturing index fell to -5.9 in December from +1.9 in November. Readings for new orders and unfilled orders fell while readings for employment showed modest improvement.
  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, 271,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time for the week that ended Dec. 12, up from 260,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims fell slightly, as did the number of individuals who continued to receive benefits. That figure dropped to 2.238 million for the week that ended Dec. 5 from 2.243 million the week before. The Labor Department also announced last week that 35 states added jobs in November while 14 lost them and employment remained steady in Montana.
  • In other economic news: the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index increased 0.4 percent in November as stock prices rose and the new construction reading improved; the U.S. consumer price index was unchanged from October 2015 to November 2015, but was up 0.5 percent from November 2014 to November 2015; real average hourly earnings for all U.S. employees increased 0.1 percent from October to November; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States increased 10.5 percent from October to November and 19.5 percent year-over-year.