April 22, 2019

MSCI Metals Activity Report Shows U.S., Canadian Steel Shipments Down


  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that its Metals Activity Report showed only aluminum shipments in Canada rose in March 2019 from the previous year. Steel shipments declined in both countries and aluminum decreased at a more significant rate in the United States. Specifically, U.S. service center steel shipments in March 2019 fell 9.4 percent while from March 2018 shipments of aluminum products decreased by 6.3 percent. Canadian service center steel shipments in March 2019 fell 11.9 percent from March 2018 while shipments of aluminum products rose 4.2 percent.
  • The U.S. goods and services trade deficit was $49.4 billion in February, down $1.8 billion from $51.1 billion in January. The decline reflected a decrease in the goods deficit of $1.2 billion and an increase in the services surplus of $0.5 billion. Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit decreased $8.3 billion, or 7.6 percent, from the same period in 2018. Exports rose $11.1 billion or 2.7 percent. Imports increased $2.8 billion or 0.5 percent. The United States’ goods deficit with China dropped 28.2 percent to $24.8 billion due to an 18.2 percent increase in exports to China.
  • The Canadian trade deficit fell from $3.1 billion in January to $2.9 billion in February. Exports declined 1.3 billion while imports fell 1.6 percent. According to CBC, Canada imported less gold, electronics, industrial machinery, consumer goods and car parts during the month. Exports to the United States rose faster than imports did, so the nation’s trade surplus with the United States widened from $2.6 billion in January to $3.5 billion.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, industrial production in the United States fell 0.1 percent in March and 0.3 percent in the first quarter to 2019. Manufacturing production was unchanged in March after declining in both January and February. The index for utilities rose 0.2 percent, but mining declined 0.8 percent.
  • According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales fell 0.2 percent in February to $56.6 billion due to production declines in the motor vehicle assembly (4.4 percent) and wood products industries (5.9 percent).
  • The Canadian economy lost 7,200 jobs during the month of March while the nation’s jobless rate held steady at 5.8 percent. It was the first employment decline in seven months and a much less positive reading than the 6,000 new jobs analysts had predicted. Manufacturers added 9,300 jobs in March.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced last week that manufacturing activity in its region expanded “modestly” in April with readings for new orders and shipments both rising.
  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 192,000 during the week that ended April 13, down from 197,000 the week before and at the reading’s lowest level since September 1969. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also declined and was at its lowest level since November 1969. The number of individuals who continued to receive benefits fell to 1.653 million during the week that ended April 6, down from 1.716 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell.
  • In other economic news: sales at merchant wholesalers in the United States increased 0.3 percent from January 2019 to February 2019 and 2.1 percent from February 2018 to February 2019 while inventories rose 0.2 percent for the month and 6.9 percent year-over-year; the number of new homes under construction in the United States fell by 0.3 percent from February 2019 to March 2019 and 14.2 percent between March 2018 and March 2019; and the Conference Board’s index of leading indicators, a gauge of future economic growth, rose 0.4 points in March.