Trade Cases

Data Still Lags Following Government Shutdown

Written by Peter Wright

The government shutdown is over but much of the data that Steel Market Update uses in its regular analyses for Premium members is still not available. This is a brief summary of where we are today in the process of data recovery.

The longest government shutdown in U.S. history, lasting 35 days from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, disrupted the operations of many federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, a primary source for trade and construction data. The Departments of Labor and Energy were not affected.

Trade: SIMA, the Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis system, released the January import license data promptly on Feb. 5, but they still haven’t released the export data for December. At SMU, we extract all our detailed import data from the USITC DataWeb. These reports include imports by district and source nation and product details of HRC and CRC. The USITC still has not updated for December and our e-mail request for a release schedule has not been answered.

Construction: The construction data for December should have been released on Feb. 4, but a statement on the Commerce website announces that the next data release won’t be until March 4. This was the original date for release of the January data. At this time, we are assuming that both December and January data will be released on March 4, but we don’t know for sure.  

Supply of All Steel Products: The SMU report scheduled for publication of this data was Feb. 10. Our market supply calculation is based on AISI mill shipments minus exports plus imports. This report is in limbo until SIMA publishes December’s export volume.

GDP: The first estimate of GDP growth in Q4 2018 should have been released on Jan. 25. As of this date, there has been no update. 

The partial government shutdown was extremely disruptive of data delivery and is taking longer to recover than expected. We apologize for our failure to publish Premium reports, but want to assure our subscribers that as soon as data is released, we will analyze it and publish accordingly. 

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