December 21, 2020

U.S., Canadian Metal Shipments Close To Year Ago Levels


  • Steel and aluminum shipments in the United States declined modestly in November compared with earlier months this year. In Canada, steel shipments were essentially flat with year-ago levels, but were up significantly in aluminum. Specifically, according to MSCI’s Metals Activity Report, U.S. service center steel shipments in November 2020 decreased 1.3 percent from November 2019 while shipments of aluminum products fell 5.2 percent. Canadian service center steel shipments declined one percent from November 2019 to November 2020 while shipments of aluminum products increased 6.9 percent year-over-year.
  • Industrial production in the United States 0.4 percent in November, but is still about five percent below its pre-pandemic level. Manufacturing increased 0.8 percent last month and was boosted by a 5.3 percent increase in motor vehicle production. Click here to read the full report.
  • Statistics Canada announced last week that manufacturing sales increased 0.3 percent to $54.1 billion from September 2020 to October 2020 after rising 2.2 percent the month before. October’s increase was led by a 5.4 percent increase in sales of paper goods and a 3.1 percent increase in petroleum and coal product industry sales. Overall manufacturing sales were down 5.2 percent between October 2019 and October 2020.
  • Manufacturing in New York State expanded in December at the slowest pace in four months as the pace of new orders slowed down. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s general business conditions index decreased to +4.9 in December from +6.3 in November, indicating little growth in activity. One bright spot: the bank’s index of economic conditions over the next six months rose to a three-month high of +36.3 from +33.9, meaning manufacturers feel more optimistic about future conditions. Click here to read the full report.
  • According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Index for the fourth quarter of 2020, only 40 percent of all small business owners believe their business can continue to operate indefinitely without having to shut down permanently; 62 percent fear that the worst is still to come with COVID-19’s economic impact; and 74 percent  say they need further government assistance to weather the storm. Click here to read the full report. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s manufacturing reading also fell, declining to +11.1 in December from +26.1 in November. The index for new orders decreased nearly 36 points to a reading of just +2.3. The current shipments index fell 11 points to 14.4 in December. Finally, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s manufacturing reading was +14 in December, up from +11 in November. Shipments, new orders, order backlog, employment, new orders for exports, and supplier delivery times all increased at a faster pace. Click here to read the full report.
  • The number of new homes under construction in the United States rose 1.2 percent between October 2020 and November 2020 and 12.8 percent between November 2019 and November 2020.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of individuals who applied for unemployment benefits rose again during the week that ended December 12, hitting 885,000, or the highest weekly total since September. That figure was up from 862,000 the previous week. The total number of individuals who are receiving state unemployment benefits fell to 5.5 million from 5.8 million, however.
  • In other economic news: Canadian wholesale sales rose for a sixth straight month in October, advancing one percent in October; retail sales in Canada beat analyst expectations by rising 0.4 percent for the month while an advance report showed U.S. retail sales fell 1.1 percent in November and were revised downward for October; and consumer prices in Canada rose one percent between November 2019 and November 2020.