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September 26, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Monthly Steel, Aluminum Shipments Improve

  • According the Metals Service Center Institute, metals shipments increased in the United States and their decline slowed dramatically in Canada in August. Specifically, U.S. service center steel shipments increased by 2.1 percent from August 2015 to August 2016 while steel product inventories decreased 14.5 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products in August increased by 4.7 percent year-over-year while inventories fell 2.9 percent. Canadian service center shipments of steel products decreased by 6.1 percent from August 2015 and inventories dropped 18.0 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments in August decreased 9.2 percent year-over-year while aluminum product inventories declined 18.7 percent.
  • The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the United States declined 0.2 percent in August to 124.1 after rising 0.5 percent in July. Despite the drop, Conference Board Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research Ataman Ozyildirim said the LEI’s “trend still points to moderate economic growth in the months ahead.”
  • According the to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 252,000 during the week that ended September 17 from 260,000 the week before. The four-week moving average also fell, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure dropped to 2.113 million during the week of September 10 from 2.149 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined. The DOL also announced last week that four U.S. states added jobs in August while three lost jobs. Employment was steady in the remaining 43 states.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s manufacturing index rose to +6 in September from -4 in August due to a strong increase in durable goods production. The bank’s production and new orders indicators both “rose considerably.” Click here for the full report.
  • In other economic news: the number of existing homes sold in the United States fell 0.9 percent between July 2016 and August 2016, but was up 0.8 percent from August 2015; the number of new homes sold in the United States rose 12.4 percent between July and August and was up 31.3 percent year-over-year; and, because of a drop in production indicators, the Federal Reserve Board of Chicago’s National Activity Index fell to -0.55 in August from +0.24 in July.