June 24, 2019

MSCI Metals Activity Report Shows Decline In Steel Shipments, Mixed Results For Aluminum


  • MSCI announced last week that steel shipments decreased for the seventh consecutive month in the United States and for the tenth consecutive month in Canada. Aluminum shipments increased in the United States but decreased for the first time this year in Canada. Specifically, U.S. service center steel shipments in May 2019 fell 7.4 percent from May 2018 while shipments of aluminum products increased four percent from the same month in 2018. Canadian center steel shipments in May 2019 declined 6.4 percent from May 2018 while shipments of aluminum products decreased by 1.9 percent from the same month in 2018.
  • According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales in the country fell 0.6 percent to $57.8 billion in April due to declines in the sales of transportation equipment (down 6.7 percent) and primary metals. Economists had expected a 0.4 percent increase.
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, its Empire State Manufacturing Survey for June indicated business activity took a sharp downturn this month. The bank’s headline index fell 26.0 points to -8.6, its largest monthly decline ever recorded. The new orders index declined 22 points to -12.0 while the shipments index fell seven points to 9.7. The index for number of employees declined eight points to -3.5. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia also announced that its manufacturing index for its region fell this month. That indicator dropped from +16.6 in May to 0.3 in June. It was the lowest reading since February, when the index fell below zero for one month. The indexes for current shipments (down three points) and new orders (down 11 points) also declined this month.
  • The U.S. Labor Department announced last week that 216,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended June 15, a decrease of 6,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 222,000. The four-week moving average of first-time claims increased, however. The number of individuals who continued to receive benefits fell to 1.662 million for the week that ended June 8, down from 1.699 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell.
  • In other economic news: Statistics Canada announced retail sales in the country rose a mere 0.1 percent in April to $51.5 billion, with sales of gasoline and food and beverages driving the increase; the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the United States was unchanged in May, remaining at 111.8 (following a 0.1 percent increase in April, and a 0.2 percent increase in March; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States fell 0.9 percent from April 2019 to May 2019 and was down 6.4 percent from May 2018 to May 2019.