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November 20, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: MSCI Sees Substantial Shipment Growth In October

  • The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) announced last week that October shipments improved from 2016 levels for steel and aluminum in both the United States and Canada. Inventory positions improved across the board as well. According to MSCI data, U.S. service center steel shipments increased 10.7 percent between October 2016 and October 2017 while inventories increased 5.6 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products in October were up 16.8 percent from the same month in 2016 while inventories improved 5.4 percent. Canadian service center shipments of steel products increased 9.8 percent year-over-year while inventories rose 8.3 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments increased seven percent and inventories rose two percent.
  • Industrial production in the United States rose 0.9 percent in October. Manufacturing output was up 1.3 percent while utilities’ production increased two percent. Output at mines declined, however, falling two percent last month.
  • Manufacturing sales in Canada rose 0.5 percent between August and September. Higher sales of petroleum and coal helped drive the improvement, which was better than analysts had predicted.
  • Regional manufacturing readings have been mixed so far in November. The New York Federal Reserve said that, even though its headline general business conditions index fell 11 points “from the multiyear high it reached last month, it remained firmly in positive territory at 19.4. The bank also noted that the “new orders index climbed to 20.7 and the shipments index came in at 18.4—readings that pointed to ongoing solid gains in orders and shipments.” The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s index fell to 22.7 in November from 27.9 in October due to lower readings for production and employment. The Kansas City Federal Reserve announced that its index for the Midwest fell to +16 this month from +23 last month due to lower readings for production, shipments, new orders, and order backlogs.
  • The National Federation of Independent Business’s small business optimism index increased to 103.8 in October from 103.0 in September. More businesses expect to see higher sales in the coming months and more said the current economic environment is a good one to expand.
  • The U.S. Labor Department announced last week that 249,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time during the week that ended Nov. 11. That figure was up from 238,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased while the number of individuals who continued to file claims fell to 1.86 million for the week that ended Nov. 4, down from 1.904 million the week before and at the lowest level since December 1973. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined and that figure was at the lowest level since January 1974. In other employment news: nine states added jobs in October while three lost jobs. Employment remained flat in the remaining 38 states.
  • In other economic news: the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) increased 0.4 percent between October 2017 and November 2017 and 2.8 percent between November 2016 and November 2017; the U.S. Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.1 percent from October 2017 to November 2017 and two percent year-over-year; U.S. import prices increased 0.2 from October to November while export prices were flat; real average hourly earnings in the United States fell 0.1 percent from September 2017 to October 2017, but increased 0.4 percent from October 2016 to October 2017; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States increased 13.7 percent from September to October and 2.9 percent year-over-year.