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December 18, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Steel, Aluminum Shipments Increase In The United States

  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that November shipments increased at high rates for steel and aluminum in the United States but were flat or declined in Canada. U.S. service center steel shipments increased 6.8 percent from November 2016 to November 2017 while inventories rose 7.9 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products rose 12 percent year-over-year while inventories increased 3.4 percent. In Canada, service center shipments of steel products rose 0.2 percent from November 2016 to November 2017 while inventories were up 4.3 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments fell 4.2 percent year-over-year while inventories rose 1.3 percent.
  • The Federal Reserve announced last week that overall U.S. industrial production increased 0.2 percent from October 2017 to November 2017 and 3.4 percent from November 2016 to November 2017. Manufacturing output increased 0.2 percent from October to November while utilities’ production fell 1.9 percent and mining output rose two percent.
  • Manufacturing sales in Canada fell 0.4 percent in October due to weaker sales in the auto and transportation equipment sectors. Analysts had predicted a 0.8 percent increase. Inventories increased 1.6 percent while new orders of manufactured goods rose by 5.3 percent, the most significant improvement since April 2016.
  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, 225,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the week that ended Dec. 9, down from 236,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also declined, as did the number of individuals who continued to receive benefits. That figure fell to 1.886 million for the week that ended Dec. 2, down from 1.913 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose slightly. In other jobs’ news: there were six million jobs open in the United States at the end of October 2017.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s manufacturing index for New York fell to 18.0 in December from 19.4 in November despite strong readings for new orders, employment, and shipments. 
  • The National Association of Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey for the fourth quarter of 2017 showed the highest optimism level in the survey’s 20-year history. Optimism has been at historically high levels throughout the year, averaging 91.8 percent in the four quarters of 2017, up from a 64.3 percent average in 2016. The National Federation of Independent Business’ index of small business owners’ optimism also improved last month.
  • In other economic news: the U.S. producer price index increased 0.4 percent between October 2017 and November 2017 and 3.1 percent between November 2016 and November 2017; the U.S. consumer price index increased 0.4 percent between October and November and 2.2 percent year-over-year; U.S. import prices rose 0.7 percent from October to November while export prices increased 0.5 percent; and real hourly earnings in the United States increased just 0.2 percent from November 2016 to November 2017.