November 2018 Market Insight

Economic Indicators

The U.S. economy added 250,000 jobs in October while the unemployment rate was unchanged at a near 50-year low of 3.7%. Wages and salaries jumped by 3.1%, the highest level in 10 years.

September’s Architecture Billings Index score was 51.1. The pace of growth slowed a bit from August. However, any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The October Purchasing Managers Index registered 57.7%, a decrease of 2.1 percentage points from the September reading of 59.8%. The New Orders Index registered 57.4%, a decrease of 4.4 percentage points from the previous month. The Production Index registered 59.9%, a 4.0 percentage point decrease compared to the September reading.

Imports

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported that the U.S. imported 2.2 million tons of steel, including 1.9 million tons of finished steel, in September. Overall, steel imports for the month were down 25.9% and finished steel imports decreased 8.6% from August.

Trade

The Trump administration remains committed to continued talks with the Canadian and Mexican governments regarding its Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. U.S. and European Union officials met in Washington, D.C. last week to discuss regulatory issues that eventually could be part of a transatlantic trade deal. Talks with China, however, are still off the table.

The Trump administration officially notified Congress that it will start trade negotiations with Japan, the European Union and the U.K. as soon as three months from October 16. The notification is a procedural step under U.S. trade law that is required 90 days before the U.S. enters into negotiations with other countries. The White House cannot engage in official talks before the three-month window is over and needs to consult with Congress during that period to ensure it’s fulfilling the objectives laid out in the law.

Canada is applying quotas and a 25% tariff on steel imports from China and other countries to avoid becoming a dumping ground for steel in the face of metal levies imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government faces continuing trade tensions with the U.S., which hit Canada, the European Union and other nations with tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum this summer.

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

OFR Insight November 2018