November 21, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Metals Inventories And Shipments Continue To Decline

  • According to the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI), metals shipments and inventory levels continued to decline on a year-over-year basis in October. In October 2016, U.S. service center steel shipments decreased 8.6 percent from October 2015 while steel product inventories fell 18.4 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products, meanwhile, declined 8.5 percent from the same month in 2015 while inventories of aluminum products dropped 3.8 percent. Canadian service center shipments of steel products decreased by 6.1 percent year-over-year while steel product inventories fell 11.2 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments fell 12.7 percent from the same month in 2015 while inventories dropped 7.6 percent.
  • The Federal Reserve announced last week that industrial production in the United States was unchanged in October. Manufacturing output increased 0.2 percent last month while mining production expanded 2.1 percent, its largest gain since March 2014. Utilities output, meanwhile, dropped 2.6 percent.
  • In a reading that was better than anticipated, Statistics Canada announced last week that manufacturing sales in the nation increased 0.3 percent in September from the month before. While the report beat expectation, that expansion was slower than the 0.9 percent improvement in August. Inventories increased 0.5 percent in September.
  • The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators for the United States rose 0.1 percent in October, suggesting the nation’s economy will continue to expand in early 2017.
  • Regional manufacturing reports for November are so far have been mixed. Even though readings for shipments and new orders improved from October, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s manufacturing survey fell to +7.6 in November from +9.7 the month before. The New York Federal Reserve’s reading rose, however, to +1.5 in November from -6.5 in October due to increases in new orders and shipments. Finally, the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s index fell to +1 in November from +6 in October due to declines in the readings for production, shipments, new orders, and orders backlogs.
  • The number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 235,000 for the week that ended Nov. 12 from 254,000 the week before. The number of first-time claims is now at its lowest level since November 1973. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure dropped to 1.977 million for the week that ended Nov. 5 from 2.043 million the week before. The number of continuing claims is now at its lowest level since April 2000. In other employment news: 11 U.S. states added jobs in October while five lost jobs. Employment remained relatively stable in the remaining 34 states.
  • In other economic news: the U.S. producer price index increased 0.3 percent between September and October 2016 and was up 0.8 percent between October 2015 and October 2016; the U.S. consumer price index rose 0.4 percent for the month of October and was up 1.6 percent year-over-year; average hourly earnings in the United States increased 0.1 percent from September to October; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States rose 25.5 percent from September to October.