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February 2020 Insight Guide: Market Indicators

Economic News

The U.S. economy grew 2.3% in 2019, a slow down from the previous year when the economy grew 2.9%. Consumer spending is expected to remain the top driver of economic growth.

January added 225,000 jobs. This is well beyond what economists predicted and is most likely due to an unseasonably warm January. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate ticked up to 3.6%. However, the labor force participation rate increased 0.2 percentage points to 63.4%, its highest level since June 2013.

Economic Indicators

The Architecture Billings Index registered at 52.5 in December, up from 51.9 in November. This was fueled by growth in both new project inquiries and design contract executions – any score above 50 indicates an increase in demand for design services.

The January Purchasing Manager’s Index registered at 50.9%, up 3.1 percentage points from December. The New Orders Index registered at 52%, an increase of 4.4 points from the previous month. The Production Index registered at 54.3%, up 9.5 points compared to December.

Durable Goods new orders increased in December, up 2.4%. This was led by an increase in defense spending.

The Consumer Confidence Index increased to 131.6 in December from a score of 128.2 in December. This was driven primarily by a more positive assessment of the current job market and increased optimism about future job prospects.

Steel Industry News

The U.S. steel industry is optimistic about the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The trade deal, that replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, incentivizes the use of steel made in North America for a variety of products. It also imposes new safeguards against steel dumping.

According to American Iron and Steel Institute President and CEO Thomas Gibson, USMCA promotes increased cooperation among the North American government to address circumvention and evasion of trade remedy orders.

For more information, contact your local sales rep or view the February 2020 Insight Guide below.

Metalwest Market Insight - February 2020