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June 19, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: MSCI Announces May Data On Steel, Aluminum

  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that metal shipments continued to display an every-other-month growth pattern with healthy growth in both the United States and Canada in May. In May 2017, U.S. service center steel shipments increased by seven percent from May 2016 while steel product inventories decreased 4.5 percent from May a year ago. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products, meanwhile, increased by 11.5 percent year-over-year while inventories of aluminum products rose 2.1 percent. In Canada, service center shipments of steel products increased by 6.8 percent from May 2016 while inventories fell by 3.5 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments in May rose 3.3 percent year-over-year while inventories decreased 2.2 percent.
  • Canadian manufacturing sales expanded 1.1 percent from March 2017 to April 2017. Analysts had expected a 0.9 percent increase. Durable goods sales were up just 0.3 percent, however, compared to a two percent increase in non-durable goods sales. Inventories, meanwhile, increased 0.9 percent while the number of new orders was up 0.4 percent.
  • Industrial production in the United States was unchanged from April to May following a large increase in April. Manufacturing output fell 0.4 percent last month while mining output increased 1.6 percent and utilities production expanded 0.4 percent. Capacity utilization fell 0.1 percentage point in May to 76.6 percent.
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, manufacturing activity in the state of New York “rebounded strongly” in June. The bank’s manufacturing index rose to +19.8 this month from -1.2 in May. Readings for new orders, shipments, and inventories all strengthened this month. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing index, meanwhile, fell to +27.6 in June from 38.8 in May. The index has been above zero for 11 months. In the latest reading, 42 percent of the firms indicated increases in activity in June, down from 51 percent in April.
  • The National Federation of Independent Business’ Small Business Optimism Index held steady at 104.5 in May and now has been at a historically high level for six months. More small employers indicated last month that they plan to increase hiring and capital outlays.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 237,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the week that ended June 10, down from 245,000 the week before. The four-week moving average first-time claims increased slightly, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure increased to 1.935 million for the week that ended June 3 from 1.929 million the week before. The four-week moving average continuing claims also rose. In other employment-related news: nine states added jobs in May while four lost jobs. Employment levels remained steady in the remaining 37 states.
  • In other economic news: Real average hourly earnings in the United States increased 0.3 percent between April 2017 and May 2017 and 0.6 percent between May 2016 and May 2017; the U.S. producer price index held steady between April 2017 and May 2017, but increased 2.4 percent year-over-year; the U.S. consumer price index fell 0.1 percent from April to May, but was up 1.9 percent between May 2016 and May 2017; U.S. import prices were down 0.3 percent in May while export prices were off 0.7 percent.