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February 8, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • The U.S. trade deficit increased from $39.8 billion in November 2014 to $46.6 billion in December. The negative reading was driven by a nearly 10 percent increase in the goods’ deficit. Meanwhile, Canada’s trade deficit also increased in December, widening from $335 million (in Canadian dollars) in November to $649 million at the end of the year. Lower oil prices were the primary factor driving the negative report. Despite December’s reading, Canada ran a $5.17 billion trade surplus in 2014.
  • The U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week that new orders for manufactured goods fell for the fifth month in a row in December, declining 3.4 percent from the previous month. Shipments and the number of unfilled orders also dropped at the end of 2014.
  • Markit and the Royal Bank of Canada released purchasing managers’ indexes (PMIs) for the U.S. and Canada last week. The U.S. index held steady at 53.9 in January 2015 as output growth improved and new orders weakened slightly. The Canadian reading fell to 51.0 in January from 53.9 in December. Output and new orders both weakened in Canada last month. Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management’s PMI for the U.S. fell in January as new orders and production fell.
  • The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate increased from 5.6 percent in December to 5.7 percent in January. (Manufacturers added 22,000 jobs last month.) Meanwhile, the number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time increased to 278,000 for the week that ended Jan. 31 from 267,000 the week before. The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits increased to 2.4 million for the week that ended Jan. 24 from 2.396 million the week before.
  • U.S. worker productivity fell 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 as output declined and the number of hours worked rose at the fastest pace since the end of 1998. Unit labor costs were up 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter.
  • In other economic news: U.S. auto sales increased 9.3 percent between January 2014 and January 2015 for the best monthly performance since 2006; U.S. construction spending rose 0.4 percent between November 2014 and December 2014 and 2.2 percent between December 2013 and December 2014; and personal incomes in the U.S. increased 0.3 percent in December while personal consumption dropped 0.3 percent.