January 9, 2018

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Steel Imports Into United States Decline

  • Steel imports into the United States fell 11.4 percent from November 2017 to December 2017 and were down 10.7 percent between December 2016 and December 2017. As American Metal Market (subscription required) reported last week, “several product categories that saw significant declines,” including coiled plate, line pipe, oil country goods, and galvanized sheet.”
  • According to the U.S. Commerce Department, the nation’s trade deficit increased to $50.5 billion in November from $48.9 billion in October. The value of exports increased $4.4 billion in November to $200.2 billion while the value of imports rose $6 billion to $250.7 billion. The goods deficit rose by $1.7 billion to $70.9 billion in November. The overall trade deficit increased $53.4 billion, or 11.6 percent, from November 2016 to November 2017.
  • The United States economy added 148,000 jobs in December and the nation’s unemployment rate remained steady at 4.1 percent for the third month in a row. Manufacturers added 25,000 jobs last month. The U.S. Labor Department also announced last week that 250,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time during the week that ended December 30, up from 247,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased. The number of individuals who continued to file for benefits fell, meanwhile, dropping to 1.914 million for the week that ended Dec. 23 from 1.943 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose slightly.
  • In other economic news: sales of cars in the United States fell by 1.8 percent in 2017; U.S. construction spending increased 0.8 percent between October 2017 and November 2017 and 2.4 percent between November 2016 and November 2017; and new orders for manufactured goods in the United States, up five of the last six months, increased $6.5 billion, or 1.3 percent, to $488.1 billion in November 2017.