January 11, 2016

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • The U.S. trade deficit fell to $42.4 billion in November from $44.6 billion in October as overall exports fell by $1.6 billion and imports dropped $3.8 billion. The overall trade deficit increased 5.5 percent between November 2014 and November 2015. The deficit for goods alone fell to $61.3 billion in November from $63.6 billion in October.
  • According to Statistics Canada, the nation’s trade deficit fell to $2 billion in November from $2.5 billion the month before. Exports were up 0.4 percent in November while imports dropped 0.7 percent. The nation’s trade surplus with the United States rose to $2.1 billion from $1.7 billion.
  • New orders for manufactured goods in the United States fell 0.2 percent from October to November while shipments increased 0.2 percent. The number of unfilled orders also increased 0.2 percent while inventories dropped 0.3 percent.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the United States fell to 48.2 in December from 48.6 in November even though production and new orders were up slightly. Declines in employment, prices and imports drove the poorer reading for December. Ten of 18 sectors, including the primary metals and fabricated metal products industries, contracted in December. The Markit PMI for the United States, meanwhile, fell to 51.2 in December, the lowest reading in two years, from 52.8 in November. Slower rates of output and new business growth drove the decline.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada PMI fell to 47.5 in December, its lowest point in five years, from 48.6 in November. The bank’s Chief Economist Craig Wright said, “Across Canada, Alberta and British Columbia experienced the sharpest deterioration in conditions, while Ontario continued to be a national bright spot, posting a sustained rise in output production. As the U.S. economy strengthens, we expect to see improvements in Canadian manufacturing sector activity levels.”
  • In a report that was much better than analysts’ predictions, the U.S. Labor Department last week announced the economy added 292,000 jobs in December and the federal unemployment rate held steady at five percent. The manufacturing sector added 8,000 jobs last month. The Labor Department also announced that 277,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time during the week that ended Jan. 2, down from 287,000 the week before. It was the 44th week in a row that the number of first-time claims was under 300,000, the level economists say corresponds with an improving job market. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell while the number of individuals who continued to receive federal jobless benefits rose, increasing to 2.23 million for the week that ended Dec. 26 from 2.205 million the week before.
  • The Canadian economy added 22,800 jobs in December as the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 7.1 percent. Unfortunately, the employment gain was due entirely to an increase in part-time work. (The economy added 29,200 part-time jobs, but lost 6,400 full-time jobs.) CIBC Economics analyst Avery Shenfeld cautioned, “Don’t pull the curtain back to look behind the strong Canadian employment gain in December, because the picture doesn’t look nearly as pretty when you do. All told, a nice headline mask[ed] a continuing trend for weak hiring by private sector companies in Canada.”
  • In other economic news: U.S. auto sales increased nine percent in December and hit an all-time record high in 2015; wholesale sales fell one percent while wholesale inventories declined 0.3 percent.