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December 22, 2014

Latest Economic News From The U.S. & Canada

  • Several economic indicators released last week revealed the U.S. economy as a whole continued to show signs of moderate expansion in the fourth quarter. The Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators rose 0.6 percent in November, a reading the Conference Board said “signals continued moderate growth through the winter season” while the U.S. Federal Reserve announced industrial production increased 1.3 percent in November as utilities’ output strengthened 5.1 percent, manufacturing production rose 1.1 percent and manufacturing output fell just 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, the Manufacturers Alliance for Innovation and Productivity Foundation (MAPIF) announced last week that manufacturing industrial production in the U.S. is on pace to expand 3.3 percent this year while the economy as a whole will expand just 2.3 percent. The foundation estimates the manufacturing sector will expand by 3.5 percent next year, 3.9 percent in 2016 and 3.1 percent in 2017 and will continue to outpace overall economic growth during those years.
  • Led by a 15.6 percent decline in aerospace products production, manufacturing sales in Canada fell 0.6 percent in October. Production of primary metals also fell significantly, declining 5.5 percent for the month. 
  • Readings from various manufacturing regions in the U.S. have been mixed so far this month. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced its manufacturing index fell from +11.6 in November to -3.6 in December, the reading’s lowest level since late 2012. The sub-indices for shipments, new orders and the average work week were all off this month. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank announced its manufacturing reading was still well above the all-important zero mark indicating expansion, but the general business activity index did drop 16 points, from +40.8 in November to +24.5 in December. A drop in new orders and shipments led the decline. Finally, the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank announced its manufacturing index rose slightly this month, to +8 from November’s +7 reading. Increased durable goods orders contributed to the small improvement in the Midwest.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the number of Americans who filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time fell to 289,000 for the week that ended Dec. 13 from 295,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell slightly. The number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits also declined, to 2.373 million for the week that ended Dec. 6 from 2.514 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims rose slightly, however.
  • In other economic news: the number of new homes in the U.S. under construction fell 5.2 percent from October 2014 to November 2014 and 0.2 percent from November 2013 to November 2014; the U.S. consumer price index fell 0.3 percent from October 2014 to November 2014 as gas prices continued to fall, but was still up 1.3 percent year-over-year; and, finally, 37 U.S. states added jobs in November while 12 states lost them. (Employment in Idaho remained at the same level that it was in October.)