August 1, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Shipments In U.S., Canada Continue To Decline

  • According to the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI), the rate of decline of shipments from 2015 levels accelerated again in both the United States and Canada in June. Inventory levels remain fairly flat. In June 2016, U.S. service center steel shipments decreased by 5.1 percent from June 2015 while steel product inventories decreased 16.5 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products in June decreased by 6.5 percent from the same month in 2015 while inventories of aluminum products decreased 1.5 percent. In June 2016, Canadian service center shipments of steel products decreased by 14.4 percent from June 2015 while steel product inventories decreased 26 percent. Finally, Canadian service center aluminum shipments in June decreased 16.5 percent from the same month in 2015 and inventories of aluminum products decreased 15.9 percent.
  • Economic growth in the United States expanded at a 1.2 percent annualized rate in the second quarter of 2016, a slight improvement over the first quarter’s 0.8 percent growth rate. Consumer spending and exports rose in the second quarter, but readings for private inventory investment and nonresidential fixed investment were not as healthy as they were in the first quarter. 
  • In its worst economic growth reading in more than seven years, Statistics Canada announced last week that the Canadian economy contracted 0.6 percent in May. A 22 percent drop in non-conventional oil production was the primary reason for the decline. Manufacturing output also dropped, however, declining 2.4 percent.
  • The Dallas Federal Reserve announced last week that manufacturing activity in Texas “held steady” in July because readings for production, shipments, capacity utilization, employment, and new orders all improved. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Federal Reserve manufacturing index fell to -6 in July from +2 in June since “durable goods production dropped sharply, particularly for metals and electronic equipment.” Readings for production, employment, and raw materials inventories were all off in July. Also last week: the Richmond Federal Reserve said manufacturing activity in the Central Atlantic region expanded in July. The bank’s composite index improved from -10 to +10 due to higher readings for employment, capacity utilization, shipments, and new orders.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), 266,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the week that ended July 23, up from 252,000 the week before. Despite that increase, the four-week moving average of first-time claims fell slightly. The number of individuals who continued to file for benefits rose to 2.139 million for the week that ended July 16 from 2.128 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims declined to 2.135 million, its lowest level since November 2000, from 2.142 million the week before.
  • In other economic news: the number of new homes sold in the United States rose 3.5 percent from May 2016 to June 2016 and was up 25.4 percent between June 2015 and June 2016; the Conference Board index of consumer confidence fell to 97.3 in July from 97.4 in June while the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 90 from 93.5; and compensation costs for U.S. civilian workers increased 0.6 percent in the second quarter of 2016.