CHICAGO Eight of 12 federal reserve bank districts reported economic growth during an eight-week period through early October, with some cautious optimism evident in modestly higher business spending and hiring, according to the Federal Reserves latest economic conditions report.
In the Cleveland district, steel producers and service centers reported that shipping volume was increasing, albeit at a very slow rate, but several survey respondents expressed concern about the quantity of steel imports, especially from China. Steelmakers do not expect market conditions to change appreciably in the coming months.
In the Chicago district, steel production and capacity utilization were steady, with an increase in domestic demand being met by rising imports. Specialty metal manufacturers reported lower shipments, but said their fourth-quarter order books had filled. Prices for steel, copper and aluminum edged lower in the eight-week period.
Steel, tubular products and metal spring companies in the St. Louis federal reserve bank district said they planned expansion projects that included hiring.
The Minneapolis district reported increased iron ore output, and a stalled copper-nickel mining development in Michigan resumed construction after it was sold.
Metal fabricators in the Dallas district said they were busy as demand for energy equipment increased, but demand for primary metals softened slightly.
In the San Francisco region, demand for steel products used in nonresidential construction edged up and steel producers said capacity utilization was mostly stable, assisted by demand from the automotive and aircraft industries.
In the Atlanta region, port operators said there had been increased movement of steel imports, and railroads saw substantial increases in nonferrous scrap metal shipments.
Philadelphia-region manufacturers saw a significant rebound in orders and shipments since the previous survey and optimism that business conditions will improve over the next six months broadened.
In the Kansas City region, expectations for energy activity improved and should remain stable, according to the latest survey.