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March 19, 2018 | by    

This Week’s Top Economic News: U.S., Canadian Steel And Aluminum Shipments Increase In February

  • The Metals Service Center Institute announced last week that shipments of steel and aluminum increased in both the United States and Canada in February. U.S. service center steel shipments in February 2018 rose 5.2 percent from February 2017 while steel product inventories increased 5.4 percent year-over-year. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products in February increased 11.6 percent and inventories rose 6.5 percent. Canadian service center shipments of steel products in February 2018 increased 4.8 percent from February 2017, but inventories fell 1.9 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments rose 0.6 year-over-year while inventories increased 0.2 percent.
  • U.S. industrial production increased 1.1 percent in February following a decline of 0.3 percent in January. Manufacturing production increased 1.2 percent in February, its largest gain since October, while mining output increased 4.3 percent. Utilities’ output fell 4.7 percent.
  • Manufacturing sales in Canada fell 1.1 percent between December 2017 and January 2018, Statistics Canada reported last week. Sales were down in 14 of 21 industries, including primary metals, which saw a 2.8 percent decline in sales. According to The Financial Post, “recent trade policy developments represented a key source of uncertainty for the Canadian and global outlooks.”
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced last week that its regional manufacturing reading increased nine points in March, to +22.5, due to higher levels of new orders, production, and employment. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, meanwhile, announced its index fell to +22.3 in March from 25.8 in February even though indexes for current new orders and shipments “recorded notable improvements.”
  • The U.S. Labor Department announced last week that there were 6.3 million jobs open in the United States at the end of January 2018, the highest number ever recorded. In other employment-related news: 226,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended March 10, down from 230,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also declined while the number of individuals who continued to apply for benefits increased. That figure rose to 1.879 million during the week of March 3 from 1.875 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell.
  • In other economic news: U.S. import prices increased 0.4 percent from January to February while export prices rose 0.2 percent; the U.S. Producer Price Index increased 0.2 percent from January 2018 to February 2018 and 2.8 percent between February 2017 and February 2018; the U.S. Consumer Price Index also increased 0.2 percent during the month of February and was up 2.2 percent year-over-year; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States fell seven percent between January 2018 and February 2018 and four percent between February 2017 and February 2018.