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July 2019 Insight Guide: Market Indicators

U.S. Economy

The U.S. added 224,000 jobs in June, an indication of the economy’s durability after more than a decade of expansion. This is after a weak job growth of just 72,000 in May. The unemployment rate ticked up to 3.7%, up from 3.6% the previous month.

Billings at architectural firms were essentially flat in May. The Architecture Billings Index registered at 50.2. This still indicates a small increase in billings as it is above the 50-point threshold.

The June Purchasing Managers Index registered at 51.7%, a decrease of 0.4 points from May. The New Orders Index registered at 50%, down 2.7 points from the May reading of 52.7%. The Production Index registered 54.1%, up 2.8 points from May.

U.S. Steel Industry

Hot-rolled coil prices in the U.S. have remained above $27 per hundredweight as buyers are waiting to see whether a second round of mill increases will stick. Market participants generally agreed that the first round of price increases, announced in June, had stuck. Due to longer lead times at some producers, mills will most likely be able to hold the higher prices.

The U.S. Commerce Department issued affirmative preliminary determinations in the countervailing duty investigations of fabricated structural steel imports from China and Mexico and a negative determination for Canada. Commerce is scheduled to announce its final determination around November 19, 2019.

US Steel, a major American steelmaker, has lost $5.5 billion (roughly 70%) in market value and idled two furnaces since President Donald Trump announced a 25% tariff on imports of metal back in March 2018. The tariffs were expected to increase U.S. output and metal industry jobs. However, the increase in production came at the same time as demand began to cool, which in turn sent steel prices sharply lower. Growth in the U.S. is expected to continue to fall in the coming months.

For more information contact your local sales representative or view the full July 2019 Metalwest Insight Guide below.

Metalwest Market Insight - July 2019