Latest Economic News From The U.S. And Canada
- The U.S. trade deficit fell to $39.0 billion, its lowest level in nearly a year due to lower oil prices in November from $42.2 billion in October. Exports were down by $2 billion, but imports declined by $5.2 billion for the month. Both the goods deficit and the services surplus fell in November.
- Canada’s trade deficit increased to $644 million (in Canadian dollars) in November from $327 million in October. The Wall Street Journal said lower oil prices “weighed heavily” on Canadian exports. November’s report represented Canada’s highest trade deficit in almost 12 months; the deficit was more than triple than what analysts had predicted.
- The number of U.S. factory orders fell 0.7 percent from October and November while shipments dropped 0.6 percent. Inventories were up 0.1 percent for the month while the number of unfilled orders rose 0.4 percent. The inventory-to-shipments ratio held steady at 1.32 between October and November.
- The U.S. economy created 252,000 jobs in December as the unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent for the month, down from 5.8 percent in November. The manufacturing industry gained 17,000 jobs, but the labor force participation rate fell back to 62.7 percent and remains near its lowest level since the late 1970s. Also announced last week: the number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 294,000 for the week that ended Jan. 3, down from 297,000 the week before. The number of Americans who continued to receive benefits increased, however, to 2.452 million for the week that ended Dec. 27 from 2.353 million the week before.
- In another surprising report, Canada lost 4,300 jobs in November and the labor force participation rate in the country fell to its lowest point since October 2001. The nation’s jobless rate stayed the same – 6.6 percent – as it was the month before. Analysts had predicted a 15,000 increase in the number of jobs. The loss was driven by a steep decline (-57,700) in part-time positions; the economy created 53,500 full-time jobs in November.
- In other economic news: U.S. auto sales increased nearly 11 percent between December 2013 and December 2014 to advance to their highest level since 2006; the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank issued seasonally adjusted information for its manufacturing industry that continued to show strong growth in the region; and consumer credit in the U.S. increased by $14.1 billion in November.