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August 3, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • According to the World Steel Association, world steel production dropped 2.6 percent between May and June and was down 2.4 percent between June 2014 and June 2015. For the first six months of 2015, cumulative production was down two percent from the same point in 2014.
  • The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.3 percent annualized rate in the second quarter of 2015. Strong increases in consumer spending, state and local government spending and residential fixed investment drove the expansion. The preliminary reading, which will be revised next month, was slightly below analysts predictions of 2.5 percent growth.
  • The Canadian economy continued to contract in May and may now officially be in a recession. According to Statistics Canada, the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 0.2 percent from April to May as manufacturing output remained weak. It was the fifth monthly decline in Canada’s GDP.
  • The Conference Board of Canada issued its updated estimate for Canadian growth last week. The organization now expects the nation’s economy to expand 1.6 percent this year, its lowest forecast in six years. The Board also said it expects that growth will not be above 2.3 percent in any of the next five years.
  • Manufacturing readings from the various regions of the United States continued to show modest improvement last week. The Dallas Federal Reserve announced its general business activity reading increased to -4.6 in July from -7.0 in June. The production and shipments sub-indices rose slightly while the new orders reading increased to +0.7 from -10.3. Employment readings were down, however. Meanwhile, the Richmond Federal Reserve announced its manufacturing index rose to +13 in July from +7 in June as shipments, capacity utilization and new orders strengthened. Like in Texas, manufacturing employment softened in the Central Atlantic region in July.
  • Consumer confidence readings in the United States retreated in July, but still reflected a strengthening economy. The Conference Board’s reading fell to 90.9 in July from 99.8 in June as consumers’ feelings about the future turned more negative. However, Conference Board economist Lynn Franco said the reading was at a level “associated with an expanding economy and a relatively confident consumer.” Meanwhile, the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 93.1 in July from 96.1 in June. Despite the monthly decline, the average reading for Michigan’s index this year is the highest since 2004.
  • The number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits increased to 267,000 for the week that ended July 25 from 255,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims was down slightly, however, while the number of Americans who continued to receive benefits increased. That figure rose to 2.262 million for the week that ended July 18 from 2.216 million the week before. The DOL also announced last week that its employment cost index was basically flat in the second quarter of 2015 as wage and salary levels, and benefits, remained stagnant.