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February 2019 Market Insight – Market Indicators

Economic News

President Trump delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night. And while reviews were mixed, the facts on the U.S. economy speak for themselves. According to CBS News, some key measures of the economy’s performance for 2018, include:

  • The economy grew at its fastest rate in 13 years
  • Job creation has been strong by nearly any metric
  • Wage growth has picked up
  • U.S. trade deficit with China surges
  • America’s total debt keeps climbing

Employers added 304,000 jobs in January, marking the 100th consecutive month of employment gains. The unemployment rate rose to 4% from 3.9%, largely because of the government shutdown. Average hourly earnings rose 3 cents to $27.58.

The Architecture Billings Index score for December was 50.4 compared to 54.7 in November. While the score is down month-over-month, this still indicates an increase in billings as any score above 50 indicates an increase.

The January Purchasing Managers Index registered at 56.6%, an increase of 2.3 percentage points from the previous month. The New Orders Index registered at 58.2%, an increase of 6.96 percentage points from December. The Production Index registered 60.5%, 6.4 percentage points above the previous months’ reading.

Metals Market News

Hot-rolled prices continue to edge higher in the U.S. following mill price increases, while average lead times are three to five weeks.

The Midwest aluminum premium range narrowed with more buyers pursuing spot material. U.S. market participants claimed that spot activity accelerated slightly, with buyers appearing to be short on supply needs.

Prices for U.S. stainless steel sheet and plate declined in January, extending a downward trend mainly due to lower alloy surcharges. Lead times for stainless are around four weeks, which is considered short as average lead times are eight to 10 weeks.

Figureheads of the U.S. steel industry are providing plenty of positive feedback about President Trump’s ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order, stating that it will support American businesses and create good paying jobs for American workers.

For more information, download the February 2019 Metalwest Market Insight below or contact your local sales representative.

Metalwest Market Insight - February 2019