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April 19, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week reduced its estimate for Canadian economic growth. Due to a significant drop in oil prices and reduced investment in the energy sector, the IMF now projects the Canadian economy will expand 2.2 percent this year, compared to its previous projection of 2.3 percent. The IMF projects the U.S. economy to expand 3.1 percent this year.
  • Meanwhile, the Conference Board’s index of leading indicators for the U.S. improved slightly in March, to 121.4 from 121.2 in February. Conference Board Economist Ataman Ozyildirim said, “Although the leading economic index still points to a moderate expansion in economic activity, its slowing growth rate over recent months suggests weaker growth may be ahead.”
  • U.S. industrial production fell 0.6 percent from February to March. Manufacturing production increased just 0.1 percent for the month while mining output fell 0.7 percent and utilities output declined 5.7 percent. Meanwhile, the MAPI Foundation’s monthly outlook for the manufacturing sector declined for the third month in a row as the profits and inventories indices eased.
  • Sales of manufactured goods in Canada fell 1.7 percent from January to February. (Lower sales of motor vehicles and aerospace products and parts were largely responsible for the decline.) The report was significantly worse than the 0.3 percent increase in sales analysts had expected. The number of new orders dropped by 17.7 percent in February while unfilled orders were off 1.2 percent. Inventories were up 0.9 percent.
  • Readings for the various regional manufacturing regions in the U.S. have been mixed so far this month. The New York Federal Reserve Bank announced its manufacturing index fell to -1.2 in April from +6.8 in March as the new orders index continued to decline. (The bank’s shipments and employment indices did increase slightly, however.) Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said its manufacturing index rose to +7.5 in April from +5 in March as readings for shipments and employment improved.
  • The number of Americans filing for federal unemployment benefits for the first time increased to 294,000 for the week that ended April 11 from 282,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims increased slightly while the number of Americans who continued to receive federal jobless benefits fell to 2.268 million for the week that ended April from 2.304 million the week before. The continuing claims figure was at its lowest since December 2000.
  • In other economic news: U.S. retail sales increased 0.9 percent from February to March and were up 1.3 percent between March 2014 and March 2015; the NFIB Small Business Optimism Survey fell to its lowest level since June 2014 as fewer U.S. small business operators said they plan to hire or invest; the number of new homes under construction in the U.S. fell 5.7 percent between February and March, but was up 2.9 percent from March 2014 to March 2015; and the U.S. consumer price index increased 0.2 percent from February to March, but was down 0.1 percent year-over-year.