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November 2019 Insight: Market Indicators

The Economy

U.S. productivity fell for the first time since 2015 in the third quarter. This reflects a cutback in production as the U.S. economy slowed. Productivity declined at a 0.3% annual rate while economists predicted a 0.6% increase.

The U.S. economy added 128,000 jobs in October while the jobless rate edged up to 3.6%.

Economic Indicators

The Architecture Billings Index registered at 49.7 in September, slightly below the 50.0 threshold that signifies growth in billings. This is up 2.5 points from the August reading, however.

The October Purchasing Managers Index registered at 48.3% in October, up 0.5 percentage points from September. The New Orders Index registered at 49.1%, up 1.8 points from the previous month. The Production Index registered 46.2%, down 1.1 points from September.

The Steel Industry

U.S. steel imports increased month-over-month in October as countries subjected to the Section 232 quotas rushed to export their material at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The increase was highly anticipated following a similar jump seen in July. This is largely due to Brazil, a major source of U.S. slab imports, being subjected to a Section 232 quota that reopens every quarter.

Due to the falling U.S. Midwest aluminum premium, stronger currencies in Asian, and sustained higher freight rates, the estimated arbitrage opportunities between the U.S. and Asia have been limited. Weak demand and cheap scrap are the primary reasons for the Midwest premium’s downward trend.

For more information, view the “November 2019 Market Insight Guide” below or contact your local sales representative.

Metalwest Market Insight - November 2019