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August 2020 Insight Guide: Market Indicators

The Economy

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing weeks of record job losses and an unemployment rate not seen since the Great Depression, has the U.S. economy seen the bottom? According to Forbes, the leading economic indicators they track signal yes; the shortest recession in history is over. However, three components are necessary for a durable recovery: broad-based confidence (consumer, business, and investory) to drive the economy forward, green shoots (signs beneath the surface that economic expansion is beginning to take hold), and the alleviation of significant financial stress.

This doesn’t mean that the U.S. economy isn’t still fragile. Recovery may be hard and long.

The U.S. economy regained fewer jobs in July, adding 1.8 million payrolls, after a record gain in June of 4.8 million jobs.

Key Indicators

The June Architecture Billings Index registered at 40.0. This is up over last month, but still below 50 meaning that most design firms still saw their billings decline. Any score below 50 indicates a decline in billings.

The July Purchasing Managers Index registered 54.2%, up 1.6 points from June. This figure indicates expansion in the overall economy for the third month in a row. The New Orders Index registered at 61.5%, up from the June reading of 56.4%. The Production Index registered at 62.1%, up 4.8 points from the previous month.

The Consumer Confidence Index decreased in July to 92.6 after increasing to 98.3 in June. The Present Situation Index improved from 86.7 to 94.2 in July. However, the Expectations Index decreased from 106.1 in June to 91.5 this month.

The Steel Industry

After the COVID-19 pandemic gutted steel demand, finished steel exports plunged 26.2% in the first half of 2020. The U.S. imported 1.39 million tons in in June, down 23% compared to May; finished steel imports fell 12.7% to 1.31 million tons.

Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are likely to stay after the U.S. presidential election. The tariffs would be difficult to unwind no matter who wins the election, according to a top executive at ArcelorMittal.

For more information, view the August 2020 Market Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

Metalwest Market Insight - August 2020