Ahead of the Fed: Watching this week's economic data

Written by Stephanie Ritenbaugh

This week is set up to drop more economic data and an update from the Federal Reserve. Observers will be watching to see how movement (or not) on interest rates, consumer spending and other indicators will affect metals markets.

Wednesday afternoon, the Fed is scheduled to hold a news conference outlining its latest policy. At its last meeting April 30-May 1, the Federal Open Market Committee said that inflation had remained “more persistent than previously expected,” while noting a generally resilient economy.

The Consumer Price Index for May is also expected to drop Wednesday morning. Later this week will be reports on initial jobless claims, the producer price index and consumer sentiment.

Higher inflation and producer costs can push up interest rates, thus cutting into consumer spending and industrial output. That, in turn, can hit demand for recycled metals.

While there has been some positive data out there, the economy is still throwing mixed signals.

Last Friday’s non-farm payrolls showed the U.S. reached 272,000 new jobs in May, suggesting the economy was still fairly strong and reducing the chances the Fed will cut interest rates soon.

The unemployment rate, however, rose slightly to 4% from 3.9% – the first time it has hit this mark since January 2022.

Meanwhile, in its June report, Timothy Fiore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee summed it up like this: “U.S. manufacturing activity continued in contraction after growing in March, the first expansion for the sector since September 2022. Demand was soft again, output was stable, and inputs stayed accommodative.”

He noted that companies have been unwilling to invest due to monetary policy and other conditions.

As manufacturing dips, so does demand for scrap.

On Tuesday, the aluminum LME 3-month price closed at $2,572/t, down 0.23%.

The copper LME 3-month price closed at $9,899, up 1.40%.

The steel scrap CFR Turkey month 2 closed at $380, down 1.3%.

Steel scrap CFR India closed at $419.50, down -0.12%.

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