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April 18, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Steel, Aluminum Shipments Continue To Decline

  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that the decline of shipments from 2015 levels continued at an accelerated pace in both the United States and Canada. Specifically, U.S. service center steel shipments in March 2016 decreased by 9.2 percent from March 2015 while steel product inventories decreased two percent from last month. In March, U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products decreased by 2.6 percent from the same month in 2015 and inventories of aluminum products increased 1.4 percent from last month. Canadian service center shipments of steel products in March 2016 decreased by 11.3 percent from March 2015. Steel product inventories decreased 1.9 percent from last month, Canadian service center aluminum shipments in March decreased 7.2 percent from the same month in 2015. Inventories of aluminum products decreased by 1.6 percent from last month.
  • According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. industrial production fell at a 2.2 percent annualized rate in March. Mining production was down 2.9 percent while utilities production dropped 1.2 percent. Output in the manufacturing sector also declined, but by a lower amount: 0.3 percent.
  • In a reading that was worse than analysts had predicted, factory sales in Canada fell 3.3 percent between January 2016 and February 2016. Sales were down in 16 of 21 categories and included a 12.6 percent drop in petroleum and coal product sales and a 10.5 percent drop in motor vehicle sales. Shipments declined 2.2 percent for the month, inventories were down 0.7 percent, new orders dropped 8.1 percent and unfilled orders declined 2.3 percent. Year-over-year, factory sales were up 3.9 percent.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 253,000 for the week that ended April 9, down from 266,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure dropped to 2.171 million for the week that ended April 2, from 2.189 million the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, dropping to its lowest level (2.178 million) since Nov. 18, 2000. In other U.S. employment news: 37 U.S. states added jobs in March while 12 lost them and one (South Dakota) didn’t add or lose jobs.) 
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s manufacturing index rose to +9.6 in April from +0.6 in March as the rate of new orders, prices paid and shipments both improved. Readings for employment were largely unchanged, the bank said.
  • In other economic news: the National Federation of Independent Business’s small business survey fell to 92.6 in March from 92.9 in February and is now at a two-year low; the U.S. Producer Price Index fell 0.1 percent from February 2016 to March 2016 and was also down 0.1 percent year-over-year; and the U.S. Consumer Price Index was up 0.1 percent from February to March and 0.9 percent year-over-year.