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May 11, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • The U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in April as the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, its lowest level since May 2008. Manufacturers added 1,000 jobs last month. The Labor Department also announced last week that the number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time increased to 265,000 for the week that ended May from 262,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims declined, however, as did the number of Americans who continued to receive federal jobless benefits. That figure dropped to 2.228 million for the week that ended April 25 from 2.256 million.
  • The Canadian economy lost 19,700 jobs in April, but the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 6.8 percent. (Analysts had expected a loss of 5,000 jobs.) The number of part-time jobs fell by 66,500, the most significant decline in four years, while the country gained 46,900 full-time jobs. The manufacturing sector added 10,400 positions in April.
  • The U.S. trade deficit increased to a six-year high in March, rising to $51.4 billion in March from $35.9 billion in February, a 43 percent increase. The goods deficit increased to $70.6 billion in March from $55.7 billion the previous month; the services surplus fell slightly, to $19.2 billion from $19.8 billion.
  • Canada’s trade deficit increased to $3 billion in March from $2.2 billion in February. (Analysts had predicted a gap of $850 million.) The increase was primarily the result of a weaker Canadian dollar, an analyst from the Bank of Montreal said. Imports rose 2.2 percent for the month while exports rose just 0.4 percent. Canada ran a $2.2 billion trade surplus with the U.S. in March. In another trade-related news: Canada appears posed to sign a trade agreement with Taiwan that will address double taxation.
  • U.S. factory orders increased 2.1 percent from February to March. The number of unfilled orders rose 0.1 percent while inventories dropped 0.2 percent. The inventory-to-shipment ratio was unchanged at 1.35.
  • The Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the United States fell to 54.1 in April from 55.7 in March. Markit reported, “Output and new orders increased at slower rates and new export business declined for the first time since November, partly linked to the strong dollar” and “the currency also generated downward pressure on import prices.” The Royal Bank of Canada reported its PMI increased to 49.0 in April from 48.9 in March despite the fact that output, new orders and employment were all softer in April.
  • In other economic news: U.S. productivity fell at a 1.9 percent annualized rate in the first quarter; sales by U.S. automakers continued to increase in April; and U.S. consumer credit rose by more than $20 billion in March.