May 20, 2019

MSCI MAR: Steel Shipments Down In U.S. And Canada, Aluminum Shipments Rise


  • According to the Metals Service Center Institute’s Metals Activity Report, steel shipments decreased for the sixth consecutive month in the United States and for the ninth consecutive month in Canada. Aluminum shipments increased in both countries, reversing a four-month decline in the United States. Specifically, U.S. service center steel shipments in fell 5.3 percent from April 2018 to April 2019. Shipments of aluminum products increased by 3.1 percent. Canadian center steel shipments in April 2019 decreased by 13.2 percent from a year earlier while shipments of aluminum products increased 4.5 percent.
  • Industrial production in the United States fell 0.5 percent in April. Manufacturing output declined by the same percentage while mining output advanced 1.6 percent and utilities’ production fell 3.5 percent.
  • Manufacturing sales in the United States increased 1.6 percent from February 2019 to March 2019 and 2.8 percent between March 2018 and March 2019. Inventories were virtually unchanged for the month, but were up five percent year-over-year.
  • According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales in the country increased 2.1 percent to $58 billion in March due to increases in sales of transportation equipment (4.5 percent) , petroleum and coal products (8.2 percent) and primary metals (5.3 percent).
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, manufacturing activity “picked up significantly” in the New York region in May 2019. The bank’s general business conditions index rose eight points to 17.8, its highest level in six months. New orders and shipments also grew at a faster pace than in recent months and labor market indicators pointed to small increases in employment and hours worked. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, meanwhile, announced its manufacturing index rose from 8.5 in April to 16.6 in May. More than 25 percent of the manufacturers reported increases in overall activity this month, while only nine percent reported decreases. The indexes for current shipments and new orders moved in opposite directions.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor announced 212,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended May 11, down 16,000 from the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims rose, however. The number of individuals who continued to file for benefits fell to 1.66 million for the week that ended May 4, down from 1.688 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased.
  • In other economic news: the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index rose 0.2 percent in April to 112.1; the number of new homes under construction in the United States rose 0.6 percent from March 2019 to April 2019, but was down five percent between April 2018 and April 2019; and the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index rose 1.7 points to 103.5 in April as nine components rose and one was unchanged.