July 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. economy added 213,000 jobs in June despite the mounting trade tensions with China. The unemployment rate rose to 4.0%, from 3.8% the previous month.

Consumer sentiment in the U.S. rose slightly in June. The index increased to 98.2, below an expected 99.2 by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters. The primary concerns for consumers were a down pace in economic growth and rising inflation.

The Architecture Billings Index for May was 52.8, which shows that demand for services from architectural firms continues to be healthy as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The June Purchasing Managers Index registered 60.2%, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the May reading of 58.7%. The New Orders Index registered at 63.5%, a decrease of 0.2 percentage point from May’s reading. The Production Index registered at 62.3%, a 0.8 percentage point increase compared to May.

President Donald Trump fired the biggest shot yet in the global trade war by imposing tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports and China retaliated. Duties on Chinese goods started on July 6 in Washington, just after midday in China. Another $16 billion of goods could follow in two weeks, Trump earlier told reporters, before suggesting the final total could eventually reach $550 billion, a figure that exceeds all of U.S. goods imports from China in 2017.

U.S. customs officials will begin collecting an additional 25% tariff on a range of imports from China. China has said it would respond by imposing higher levies on an equivalent amount of goods from America, which may in turn prompt Trump to raise trade barriers even higher.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the July 2018 ONI Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight July 2018

June 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 3.8% as employers added 223,000 jobs in May – this is after two months of lackluster gains.

The consumer confidence index rose to 128 from a revised 125.6 in April, close to an 18-year high. The present situation index climbed to a 17-year high of 161.7 from 157.5 in the prior month. The high level of confidence reflects a sturdy economic expansion in the U.S.

April’s Architectural Billings Index registered at 52.0, which indicates an increase in firm billings from the previous month.

The May Purchasing Managers Index registered at 58.7%, an increase of 1.4 percentage points from the April reading of 57.3%. The New Orders Index registered at 63.7%, up 2.5 percentage points from April. The Production Index registered 61.5%, a 4.3 percentage point increase compared to April.

The Trump administration announced on May 31 that it would impose tariffs on metals imported from its closest allies, a measure that could provoke retaliation against American businesses. A 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, which supply nearly half of America’s imported metal, went into effect on June 1.

The Trump administration had decided to move ahead with tough trade measures on China. On May 29, the White House said that it would proceed with its plan to levy 25% tariffs on $50 billion of imported Chinese goods, despite recent remarks by administration officials that the tariffs would be suspended while the countries continued their negotiations.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the June 2018 ONI Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight June 2018

May 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

U.S. jobless rate fell to 3.9% in April, the lowest since 2000. This marks the 91st consecutive month of job gains.

The U.S. economy grew at 2.3% in the first quarter of 2018. The pace is equal to the performance for all of last year, but it is below the stronger 2.9% annualized rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2017. It also falls short of President Trump’s goal of at least 3%.

The Architecture Billings Index was at 51.0 for March. This is down 1 point from the previous month, but still reflects a healthy business environment as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The April Purchasing Managers Index registered at 57.3%, a decrease of 2 percentage points from the March reading of 59.3%. The New Orders Index registered 61.2%, a decrease of 0.7 percentage point from the previous month. The Production Index registered 57.2%, a 3.8 percentage point decrease compared to the March reading of 61%.

President Donald Trump offered a second temporary exemption on metal-import tariffs rather than the permanent waiver most key economic allies are demanding. The U.S. said April 30 it would delay until June 1 import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum for the EU, Mexico and Canada. The White House also said it reached agreements-in-principle with Argentina, Australia and Brazil to remove the levies, which were introduced on national security grounds.

Shipments of U.S. aluminum and Canadian steel products increased in March, while Canadian aluminum and U.S. steel shipments fell slightly during the month. U.S. service centers shipped 3.6 million tons of steel products in March, down 1.7% from the same month last year and up 9.3% from February. Canadian service centers shipped 435,600 tons of steel products during the month, an increase of 3.4% from March 2017 and 12% from February.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or check out the May 2018 ONI Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight May 2018

April 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. added 103,000 jobs in March, while the unemployment rate was at 4.1%. This marks the 90th consecutive month of job growth – the longest streak on record.

The Federal Reserve raised interest rates on March 21 by a quarter of a percentage point and signaled that the central bank is on track to raise rates twice more in 2018. The Fed said it would raise its benchmark interest rate to a range of 1.5% to 1.75%, marking the sixth time since the financial crisis that rates have risen.

February’s Architecture Billings Index registered at 52, down 2.7 points from January. However, it still reflects an increase in design services as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The March Purchasing Managers Index registered at 59.3%, down 1.5 percentage points from the February reading of 60.8%. The New Orders Index registered 61.9%, a decrease of 2.3 percentage points from the previous month. The Production Index registered at 61%, down 1 percentage point from February.

The U.S. will grant the European Union, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, and South Korea a temporary exemption from aluminum and steel tariffs, averting a trade war with key allies as the Trump administration tailors penalties to target China. President Trump has already granted exemptions to Mexico and Canada.

For more information and to continue reading, view the April 2018 ONI Insight Guide below or contact your local sales rep.

ONI Insight April 2018

March 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. added 313,000 jobs in February, much stronger than economists anticipated and was the largest gain since July 2016. The unemployment rate stayed at 4.1%, the lowest in 17 years.

Consumer sentiment inched down at the end of February, but still exceeded expectations after shooting up mid-month. The University of Michigan’s report on consumer attitudes about the economy slipped to 99.7 in February; the index reached 99.9 in the prior February reading, the second-highest level since 2004.

The January Architecture Billings Index score was 54.7, up from a score of 52.8 in December. The score reflects an increase in design services as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The February Purchasing Managers Index registered 60.8%, an increase of 1.7 percentage points from the January reading of 59.1%. The New Orders Index registered at 64.2%, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points from the previous month. The Production Index was at 62%, down 2.5 percentage points compared to January.

President Donald Trump pressed ahead with the imposition of 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% for aluminum on March 1, but exempted Canada and Mexico, backtracking from earlier pledges on tariffs on all countries. Trump told a news conference that the best outcome would be for companies to move here and insisted that domestic production was needed for national security reasons.

Details of the plan came from a briefing by administration officials ahead of Trump’s speech. Other countries can apply for exemptions, although details of when they would be granted are thin.

For more information, contact your local sales representative or view the March 2018 ONI Insight Guide below.

ONI Insight March 2018

February 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. added 200,000 jobs in January, an increase from December and the 88th consecutive month of job growth. The unemployment rate was at 4.1%, the same as December and the lowest since 2000.

The U.S. economy expanded at a slower pace than projected in the fourth quarter of 2017 on drags from trade and inventories, offsetting strength in consumer spending and business investments that signals momentum entering into 2018. Gross domestic product rose at a 2.6% annualized rate after 3.2% the previous period. Consumer spending rose 3.8%, the best in more than a year.

The Architecture Billings Index registered a score of 52.9 for the month of December, down from a score of 55.0 the previous month. This score still reflects an increase in design services as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

January’s Purchasing Managers Index reading registered at 59.1%, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from the seasonally adjusted December reading of 59.3%. The New Orders Index registered at 65.4%, down 2 percentage points from December. The Production Index registered at 64.5%, a 0.7 percentage point decrease compared to the previous month.

U.S. steel imports continued their downward trajectory in December, with volumes down month-over-month and year-over-year, led by a large decline in shipments of oil country goods. Imports came to 2.22 million tons in December, down 11.45% from November and down 9.36% from the previous year.

U.S. Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered the long-awaited 232 report on the impact of aluminum imports to President Donald Trump. With the renewed prospect of trade actions, prices may be driven skyward. The president has 90 days to decide on any potential action based on the findings of the investigation.

For more information, view the January 2018 ONI Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

ONI Insight February 2018

January 2018 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. added 2 million jobs in 2017, with 148,000 jobs added in December. The December report was below what economists expected. However, it was still the 87th consecutive month of gains – the longest streak on record.

The U.S. trade deficit increased more than expected in November as imports of goods surged to a record high amid strong domestic demand, making it likely that trade will subtract from economic growth in the fourth quarter.

Even with the uncertainty related to pending tax reform legislation, design services at architecture firms remain high in demand. The Architecture Billings Index for November was 55.0, up from a score of 51.7 the previous month. Any score above 50 reflects an increase in billings.

The December Purchasing Managers Index registered 59.7%, an increase of 1.5 percentage points from the November reading of 58.2%. The New Orders Index registered 69.4%, an increase of 5.4 percentage points from the November reading. The Production Index registered 65.8%, a 1.9 percentage point increase compared to the November reading of 63.9%.

U.S. steel imports fell more than 10% month-over-month and year-over-year in December, marking a second month of significant declines. Steel imports in December stood at 2.19 million tons, down 11.4% from 2.47 million tons in November and off 10.7% from 2.45 million tons in December 2016.

Aluminum industry leaders testified last month before the U.S. International Trade Commission in support of a determination that imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China injure or threaten to injure U.S. producers.

In November, the Department of Commerce self-initiated antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from China. The goal is to determine whether the imports are being sold in the U.S. at unfairly low prices and whether Chinese producers receive actionable subsidies from the Chinese government on these products.

The ITC is tentatively scheduled to vote on January 12 on whether there is a reasonable indication that domestic producers of common alloy sheet are materially injured or threatened.

For more information, view the January 2018 ONI Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

ONI Insight January 2018

December 2017 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. added 228,000 jobs in November. The unemployment rate was 4.1%, unchanged from October, when it was the lowest since 2000. The U.S. has now added jobs for 86 consecutive months.

For the first time since mid-2014, the U.S. economy has sustained 3% growth for two consecutive quarters. The current Conference Board forecast calls for 2.8% growth during the final quarter of 2017 and 2.5% growth in 2018. This would represent the economy’s best 2-year run since 2005.

The Architecture Billings Index was at 51.7 for the month, up from a 49.1 reading the prior month. An index score above 50 indicates an increase in firm billings.

The November Purchasing Managers Index registered 58.2%, a decrease of 0.5 percentage points from the October reading of 58.7%. The New Orders Index registered 64%, an increase of 0.6 percentage points from October. The Production Index registered 63.9%, a 2.9 percentage point increase compared to the prior month.

The fifth round of North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) discussions came to a close on November 22 in Mexico with little headway made in efforts to reform and update the pact. In a statement released November 21, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said, “While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway. Thus far, we have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement. Absent rebalancing, we will not reach a satisfactory result.”

The Trump administration, invoking powers the U.S. hasn’t used in more than a quarter century, began a probe into Chinese aluminum imports that could lead to tariffs. The Commerce Department is taking the unusual step of initiating the case itself, rather than going through the regular route of starting an investigation based on petitions filed by U.S. companies. The investigation covers imports in common alloy sheet, which totaled more than $600 million last year, and was initiated using authority granted by the Tariff Act of 1930.

For more information, view the December 2017 ONI Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

ONI Insight December 2017

November 2017 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. added 261,000 jobs in October. Wall Street economists had expected a jump of 325,000. The unemployment rate was 4.1%, the lowest since December 2000.

Overall orders for durable goods shot up 2.2% in September (more than the 1.0% increase expected) amid a 5.1% rise in demand for transportation equipment. Shipments rose for an eighth consecutive month, suggesting business spending on equipment remained robust in the third quarter.

The Architectural Billings Index declined to 49.1 in September. This breaks seven consecutive months where the index remained above 50. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The October Purchasing Managers Index registered 58.7%, a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from the September reading of 60.8%. The New Orders Index registered 63.4%, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points from the September reading of 64.6%. The Production Index registered 61%, a 1.2 percentage point decrease compared to the September reading of 62.2%.

Shipments of U.S. steel and aluminum products were mostly flat in September, with only aluminum shipments increasing slightly during the month. U.S. service centers shipped 3.0 million tons of steel products in September, roughly equal to the same month last year, but down 12.3% from August. Domestic service centers shipped 131,200 tons of aluminum products during September, up 3.5% year-over-year, but down 14.2% from August.

For more information view the November 2017 ONI Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.

ONI Insight November 2017

October 2017 ONI Insight: Market Indicators

The U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September likely due to the hurricanes; it was the first monthly decline in jobs in seven years. The unemployment rate dropped to 4.2%, the lowest since 2001. The Labor Department and economists expect the decline to be short-lived as employers closed by the storms are able to reopen.

Orders for durable goods climbed in August, up 1.7%, and business investment strengthened again in a good showing for the U.S. economy. Consumer confidence, however, declined to 95.1 in a final reading for September. This is lower than economists polled by Reuters expected as August recorded the consumer sentiment index’s highest month since January.

The Architectural Billings Index registered at 53.7 for August, up from a score of 51.9 the previous month. This score reflects an increase in design services as any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The September Purchasing Managers Index registered 60.8%, an increase of 2 percentage points from the August reading of 58.8%. The New Orders Index registered 64.6%, an increase of 4.3 percentage points from the previous month and the Production Index registered 62.2%, up 1.2 percentage points from August.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the Trump administration has decided to defer a decision on steel tariffs as it focuses on getting tax reforms through Congress. “The policy decision has been made to postpone that until the tax bill,” Ross said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

Shares of major U.S. steelmakers declined after Ross’s remarks. U.S. Steel Corp. dropped the most, falling as much as 6.1% and extending its two-day decline, while Nucor Corp., AK Steel Holding Corp., and Steel Dynamics Inc. also fell. Commerce will give President Donald Trump a range of options when it reports its findings on the steel investigation, said Ross. But, overhauling the tax system is the “single most important” thing on the administration’s agenda, he said.

For more information on the October 2017 ONI Insight Guide, view the publication below or contact your local sales representative.

ONI Insight October 2017