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Simpson makes acquisition in North Carolina

BY Ken Clark

Pleasanton, Calif.-based Simpson Manufacturing Co. subsidiary Simpson Strong-Tie agreed to acquire substantially all of the assets of North Carolina-based Automatic Stamping.

The price tag was an aggregate of $41.4 million, plus the value at closing of inventory and accounts receivable.      

Automatic Stamping manufactures and sells a line of high-quality truss-connector plates primarily in the United States. The transaction is expected to close in December 2011 or January 2012. 

Simpson Strong-Tie designs, engineers and manufacturers wood-to-wood, wood-to-concrete and wood-to-masonry connectors and fastening systems, stainless steel fasteners and pre-fabricated shearwalls.

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Starts: Northeast and West benefit most

BY Ken Clark

Data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau tell the story of two regions generating the lion’s share of new residential construction in November: the Northeast and West.

The surprisingly strong housing start report, which showed a 9.3% increase over October, varied significantly by region. The biggest gain came from the West, where a 66.3% year-over-year increase in total housing starts was reported. The Northeast showed a 53.89% gain in total housing starts on a month-to-month basis.

While the national report was all positive, the Midwest actually showed declines in both a month-to-month and year-to-year basis for total and single-family starts. The biggest drop was a 20.7% decline in single-family starts on a year-to-year basis.

The Northeast and West showed positive growth in all four metrics, while the South was split — total starts showed growth, while single-family starts declined 1.3% on a month-to-month basis.

November month-to-month housing-start % change

   Total   Single-family
 Northeast   53.8%  35.7% 
 Midwest   (18.2%)   (14.5%)
 South   4.1%   (1.3%)
 West   22.6%  10.7%

                                              

November year-over-year housing start % change

   Total   Single-family
 Northeast   28.2%  7.5%   
 Midwest   (16.7%)  (20.7%)
 South   24.3%  (3.3%)
 West   66.3%  17.7%

            

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Decline in forecast for 2012 containerized imports

BY Brae Canlen

The Journal of Commerce and PIERS, a comprehensive database of U.S. waterborne trade activity, have revised their joint forecast for containerized imports into the United States in 2012 downward to 2.8% in year-over-year growth. Their earlier forecast was a gain of 4.7%.

Economist Mario Moreno said the downward revision was the result of the slow U.S. economic recovery, particularly the poor employment market and persistent depressed figures in the housing market.

"Even with recent improvements in the housing market, this industry will remain depressed for a couple of more years, as there is simply too much excess capacity to support a recovery," Moreno said. "The U.S. economy will continue growing but at a stubbornly slow pace of 1.3% in real terms in 2012."

Moreno noted the U.S. economy showed greater activity during the third quarter than many economists had expected after a sharp slowdown in the first half of the year. But high oil prices, pending foreclosures, a "high probability" that payroll tax cuts will not be renewed, slow job creation and the seasonality of recent retail spikes will challenge the sustainability of this growth.

Moreno’s previous predictions had included a 5.9% increase for eastbound trans-Pacific trade, which has been downgraded to 2.7%. On a quarterly basis, overall imports are forecast to stay flat in the fourth quarter of 2011 in year-over-year comparisons, and rise by just 1.3% in the first quarter of 2012. 

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