January 23, 2018 | by    

This Week’s Top Economic News: U.S. Steel, Aluminum Shipments Increased In December

  • The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) announced last week that U.S. steel and aluminum shipments increased in December while shipments from Canada declined. According to MSCI data, U.S. service center steel shipments increased 2.8 percent from December 2016 to December 2017 while inventories rose 6.8 percent. U.S. service center shipments of aluminum products jumped 12.5 percent year-over-year while inventories of aluminum products increased just 1.9 percent. In Canada, service center shipments of steel products fell 3.4 percent from December 2016 to December 2017 while inventories declined 3.1 percent. Canadian service center aluminum shipments fell 2.4 percent year-over-year, but inventories rose by 4.7 percent.
  • Industrial production in the United States improved 0.9 percent in December. Manufacturing output increased 0.1 percent, the fourth monthly increase in a row, while utilities’ production rose 5.6 percent and mining output increased 1.6 percent. For the fourth quarter as a whole, total industrial production increased 8.2 percent.
  • According to Statistics Canada, manufacturing sales in the country increased 3.4 percent from October 2017 to November 2017 and are at a record high. The positive report was driven by improvements in the sales of transportation equipment (a 9.1 percent increase), petroleum and coal products (6.1 percent increase), and chemicals (5.9 percent increase).
  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, 220,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time during the week that ended January 13, down from 261,000 the week before. That figure is now at its lowest level since February 1973. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, but the number of individuals who continued to receive unemployment benefits increased. That figure rose to 1.952 million for the week that ended January 6, up from 1.876 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also increased.
  • In other economic news: Manufacturers in the New York region continue to add employees; the manufacturing sector in the Philadelphia (region is improving steadily; and the number of new homes under construction in the United States fell 8.2 percent from November 2017 to December 2017 and six percent from December 2016 to December 2017.