There were a number of positive U.S. economic reports out last week as retail sales increased 0.2% in January, inflation readings remained in check, durable goods orders increased 0.4% in January, construction spending advanced 1.3%, and the University of Michigan’s reading on consumer sentiment improved to 97.8.
In addition, the number of job openings in the United States rose to 7.58 million, exceeding the number of those unemployed:
Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.
But for the manufacturing sector, the most recent data has been more troubling. According to the Federal Reserve, U.S. manufacturing output declined 0.4% in February, the second consecutive monthly decline as the manufacturing capacity utilization rate declined to 75.4 percent:
Meanwhile in China, the National Bureau of Statistics reported that Chinese industrial production increased only 5.3 percent year-on-year for January and February combined, “down from 5.7 percent in December and below the consensus forecast of 5.5 percent. Separate year-on-year data for January and February are not published because of the impact of differences in the timing of lunar new year holidays,” the CME Group reports. For commodity markets, concerns about the health of the Chinese manufacturing sector remains paramount for both primary and secondary (scrap) suppliers.
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