August 31, 2020

U.S. Steel Imports Rise While Global Aluminum Production Falls


  • According to FastMarketsAMM (subscription required), the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Enforcement and Compliance division reported last week “that finished steel imports into the United States soared month on month in July due to a massive influx of blooms, billets and slabs from Brazil.” Specifically, the United States imported more than 2.4 million tons of steel products in July 2020, up 92.5 percent from June 2002, but down 11.2 percent from July 2019. Shipments of most other steel products also increased month over month. Click here for AMM’s full report.
  • According to the International Aluminum Institute, global aluminum production rose 2.8 percent from June 2020 to July 2020 and was down by less than one percent from July 2019 to July 2020. Production in China rose 3.3 percent for the month and edged up slightly year-over-year. Production in North America was flat for both measures of growth.
  • As CBC reported, the Canadian economy contracted 11.5 percent during the second quarter of 2020 and is on pace for a 40 percent decline for the year. The second quarter reading was “more than twice as bad as the lowest point hit in the financial crisis of 2009, when the worst three-month period for GDP came in at -4.7 percent.” Despite the shocking headline reading, CBC said, “While the second quarter was the worst quarter for Canada’s GDP in almost 60 years, the numbers for June specifically make that month the biggest bounceback on record, too.” The economy expanded 6.5 percent from May 2020 to June 2020. Preliminary data also indicated the Canadian economy improved three percent from June to July. Retail sales were back up to their pre-pandemic levels, but output in manufacturing, construction, and energy have yet to fully recover.
  • The U.S. economy, meanwhile, fell at an annual rate of 31.7 percent in the second quarter of 2020 after declining five percent in the first quarter. The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s National Activity Index, gauge of future growth, rose 1.8 percent in July.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s manufacturing index increased to +14 in August from +3 in July as “non-durable goods factories continued to drive the uptick in recent activity, especially food and beverage manufacturers. Activity at durable goods plants grew slightly.” Production, shipments, and new orders all “grew considerably compared to a month ago,” the Kansas City Fed said. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s manufacturing reading also improved for August. The bank said, “Survey results suggested many Fifth District manufacturers saw increases in employment, wages, and the average workweek in August,” but firms also “struggled to find workers with the necessary skills, as this index fell from 3 in July to −21 in August, its largest one-month drop on record.”
  • The Conference Board announced last week that consumer confidence in the United States fell for the second consecutive month and is now at its lowest point of the pandemic. The number of consumers who think business conditions are “bad” increased from 38.9 percent to 43.6 percent while the number who think jobs are “plentiful” fell from 22.3 percent to 21.5 percent. Click here to read the full report. The University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment, however, rose slightly from July to August.
  • In other economic news: new home sales in the United States Sales rose 13.9 percent from June 2020 to July 2020 and 36.3 percent between July 2019 and July 2020; during the week ending August 15 more than 14.5 million individuals received U.S. unemployment benefits, a decrease of 223,000 from the previous week’s level; and personal income in the United States rose 0.4 percent from June to July while personal consumption increased 1.9 percent.