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January 23, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Metals Shipments, Inventories Down

  • According to the Metals Service Center Institute, (MSC)) metals shipments decreased modestly in December while inventories continued to decline by substantial percentages. In December 2016, U.S. service center steel shipments decreased by 6.9 percent from December 2015. Steel product inventories fell 13 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products fell by 5.3 percent year-over-year and aluminum product inventories decreased 2.3 percent. Canadian service center shipments of steel products increased by 6.2 percent from December 2015 to December 2016 while steel product inventories dropped 0.4 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments, meanwhile, declined one percent year-over-year while aluminum product inventories fell 0.8 percent.
  • Industrial production in the Untied States rose 0.8 percent in December due to a 6.6 percent increase in utilities’ output and a 0.2 percent rise in manufacturing output. Mining output was unchanged last month.
  • According to the Royal Bank of Canada, manufacturing sales in the country increased 1.5 percent in November. Analysts attributed nearly half of that improvement to a 9.1 percent increase in primary metal sales. Petroleum and coal sales also improved. 
  • Readings for the manufacturing sectors for various regions in the United States have been positive so far this month. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, shipments in the Empire State region held steady this month while the number of new orders increased slightly. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing index, meanwhile, increased to +23.6 in January from +19.7 in December. Indices for new orders and shipments both remained very strong this month.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 234,000 for the week that ended January 14, from 249,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell and was at its lowest level since November 1973. The number of individuals who continued to file benefits also declined, to 2.046 million for the week that ended January 7 from 2.093 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose slightly, however.
  • In other economic news: real average hourly earnings in the United States increased 0.1 percent from November 2016 to December 2016 and were up 0.8 percent from December 2015 to December 2016; the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.3 percent for the month of December 2016 and was up 2.1 percent year-over-year; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States rose 11.3 percent between November 2016 and December 2016 and 5.7 percent between December 2015 and December 2016.