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March 8, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • The Canadian economy expanded at a 2.4 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, down from the economy’s 3.2 percent growth rate. In December alone, the nation’s manufacturing sector expanded 2.5 percent, accounting for four-fifths of Canada’s growth that month.
  • The U.S. trade deficit fell to $41.8 billion in January from $45.6 billion in December. Total exports fell by $5.6 billion, but imports were off by more – $9.4 billion. (Exports of goods fell $5.5 billion in January while imports of goods fell $8.9 billion.) The overall deficit was up $2.9 billion from January 2014.
  • Meanwhile, in a reading that was worse than analysts had predicted, the Canadian trade deficit increased to $2.5 billion in January from $1.2 billion in December. Exports dropped 2.8 percent while imports remained relatively unchanged. January’s trade gap was the widest the country had seen since July 2012. The nation’s trade surplus with the U.S. fell to $1.2 billion in January from $2.2 billion the month before.
  • U.S. factory orders fell 0.2 percent from December to January while shipments dropped two percent. Unfilled orders were down 0.2 percent and inventories fell 0.1 percent. The inventory-to-sales ratio increased to 1.36 in January from 1.34 in December.
  • North American manufacturing readings were mixed last month. The Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the U.S. fell to 52.9 for February from 53.5 in January as new orders and production declined even though the Markit PMI for the United States increased to 55.1 in February from 53.9 in January as production and employment each improved. Meanwhile, the Royal Bank of Canada PMI fell to 48.7 in February from 51.0 in January. RBC Chief Economist Craig Wright said, “February’s data reflects the hit to confidence from the oil price shock with the weakness most evident in the energy intensive regions of the country. Over time we expect the weaker Canadian dollar and stronger U.S. economy to turn sentiment higher.”
  • The U.S. economy added 295,000 jobs in February as the federal unemployment rate dropped to 5.5 percent from January’s 5.7 percent. Manufacturers created 8,000 jobs last month. The number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time increased to 320,000 for the week that ended Feb. 28 from 313,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased as did the numbers of Americans who continued to receive benefits. That figure rose to 2.421 million for the week that ended Feb. 21 from 2.404 million the week before. The four-week average of continuing claims also rose slightly.
  • In other economic news: U.S. labor productivity declined at a 2.2 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2014; U.S. auto sales increased 5.3 percent between February 2014 and February, below the 7.1 percent increase analysts had predicted; U.S. construction spending increased 1.8 percent from January 2014 to January 2015; and U.S. personal incomes and consumption both increased 0.3 percent between December and January.