The U.S. economy picked up steam in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Commerce Department. Gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.2% in the first three months of the year, up from 2.2% the end of 2018.
U.S. employers added 263,000 jobs in April while the unemployment rate dropped to 3.6%, the lowest in nearly 50 years. A snapshot from the Labor Department showed solid hiring in services, construction, and health care.
The Architecture Billings Index for March registered at 47.8, a decrease of 2.5 points from the previous month. It was also the first time the score entered negative territory in 25 months; a score under 50 reflects a decrease in billings.
The April Purchasing Managers Index registered at 52.8%, a decrease of 2.5 percentage points from March. The New Orders Index registered at 51.7%, a decrease of 5.7 percentage points from the previous month. The Production Index registered at 52.3, down 3.5 points from March.
U.S. steel import licenses rose up slightly month-over-month in April with a surge in wire rod volumes offsetting losses in flat product shipments. Overall volumes still fell year-over-year. The U.S. was licensed to import nearly 2.55 million tonnes of steel in April.
Crude steel production in the U.S. rose by 6.8% in the first quarter of 2019, above the global rate of 4.5%. The higher growth was largely attributed to the Trump administration’s Section 232 trade remedy.
U.S. manufacturing activity slowed in April to a 2-1/2-year low amid sharp drop in new orders and an unexpected fall in construction spending. This suggests economic growth was moderating after a surge in the first quarter.
For more information, view the May 2019 Metalwest Market Insight below or contact your sales rep.Metalwest Market Insight - May 2019