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March 22, 2015

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • U.S. industrial production increased just 0.1 percent from January to February as manufacturing output declined 0.2 percent and mining output fell 2.5 percent. Production at utilities was a bright spot, increasing 7.3 percent. Overall production in February was up 3.5 percent from a year earlier.
  • Manufacturing sales in China fell 1.7 percent between December 2014 and January 2015. The drop was larger that expected and was driven by lower sales of petroleum and coal products. Still, even excluding those sectors, sales were down 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, due to the falloff in the energy sector, the Organization for Economic Cooperation (OECD), reduced its economic growth predictions for Canada for this year and next. The OECD now expects Canada’s economy to expand 2.2 percent in 2015 (down from a previous prediction of 2.6 percent growth) and 2.1 percent in 2016 (down from 2.4 percent before). The OECD did not change its predictions for U.S. growth and raised expectations for growth in Europe, Japan and India.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said last week that its manufacturing survey was relatively unchanged at +6.9 in March even though new orders and shipments declined this month. (The employment reading was up.) Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia also said its manufacturing index was largely unchanged this month, holding steady at +5.0. Like in New York, new orders and shipments fell, but the employment reading in Philadelphia remained virtually unchanged.
  • The number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits increased to 291,000 for the week that ended March 14, from 290,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also increased slightly while the number of Americans who continued to receive benefits fell to 2.417 million for the week that ended March 7 from 2.428 million the week before. The four-week average of continuing claims also fell. Meanwhile, 39 U.S. states added jobs in January while ten lost them. (Employment in North Carolina remained the same.) Unemployment rates dropped in 24 states, stayed the same in 18 and increased in the final eight states.
  • In other economic news: the Conference Board index of leading indicators rose 0.2 percent in February from the month before and the number of new homes under construction in the U.S. fell 17 percent between January 2015 and February 2015 and 3.3 percent between February 2014 and February 2015.