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August 21, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Metals Shipments Continue To Grow Modestly

  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that metal shipments in July continued the modest growth path established in May and June. Steel shipments from U.S. service centers increased by 1.4 percent from July 2016 to July 2017 while inventories decreased 3.9 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products increased by 4.8 percent year-over-year while inventories rose 1.3 percent. Canadian service center shipments of steel products, meanwhile, increased by 8.7 percent year-over-year while inventories rose 6.6 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments advanced 9.1 percent from July 2016 to July 2017 while inventories fell 2.1 percent.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, industrial production in the United States rose 0.2 percent in July. Output for mining and utilities both increased—0.5 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively—while manufacturing output fell 0.1 percent due to a “substantial” decline in the production of motor vehicles and parts.
  • Manufacturing sales in Canada fell 1.8 percent from May 2017 to June 2017 to $53.9 billion. A 7.1 percent drop in petroleum and coal sales and a 4.5 percent decline in chemical industry sales contributed to the disappointing reading. Overall, sales were down in 15 of 21 industries.
  • The New York Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index rose to +25.2 in August, its highest level in nearly three years. Readings for employment, new orders, and shipments all strengthened this month. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve said its manufacturing reading fell to +18.9 in August from +19.5 in July despite “notable” improvements in the new orders and shipments indexes, and continued employment expansion.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor announced last week that 232,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended August 12, down from 244,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also dropped, as did the number of individuals who continued to receive benefits. That figure fell to 1.953 million for the week that ended August 5 from 1.956 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined. In other employment news: 11 states added jobs in July while one state lost jobs. Employment in the remaining 38 states remained virtually the same.
  • In other economic news: the number of new homes under construction in the United States fell 4.8 percent from June 2017 to July 2017 and 5.6 percent from July 2016 to July 2017; import prices in the United States increased 0.1 percent in July while export prices rose 0.4 percent; and the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose 0.3 percent in July to a level that suggested the U.S. economy will continue to expand in the second half of 2017.