Market Tracker: This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Canadian Economy Strengthens
- The U.S. economy expanded at a 1.9 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2016, down from a 3.5 percent growth rate in the third quarter.
- The Canadian economy grew at a 2.6 percent annualized rate during the final three months of 2016. That reading was higher than the two percent rate analysts had predicted, but was lower than the third quarter’s 3.8 percent growth rate. Higher business and consumer spending and an improved housing market both contributed to the better-than-expected report.
- The number of new orders for durable goods in the United States increased 1.8 percent from December to January while shipments fell 0.1 percent. The number of unfilled orders fell as well, declining 0.4 percent while inventories were virtually unchanged.
- The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for the United States increased to 57.7 in February from 56.0 in January due to a strengthening in number of new orders and production. The Markit PMI for the United States fell, however, dropping to 54.2 in February from 55.0 in January.
- The Markit PMI for Canada increased to 54.7 in February from 53.5 in January due to faster rates of output and new business growth. The overall index is now at its highest level in 27 months.
- Regional manufacturing readings in the United States strengthened last month. The Federal Reserve Board of Richmond announced that its manufacturing survey rose to +17 in February from +12 in January due to a healthy increase in the number of new orders. The Texas manufacturing index also improved, rising to 24.5 in February from 22.1 in January, due to an increase in production.
- According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time fell to 223,000 for the week that ended February 25, the reading’s lowest level since March 1973, from 242,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, but the number of individuals who continued to file for federal jobless benefits increased, to 2.066 million for the week that ended February 18 from 2.063 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also rose slightly.
- In other economic news: U.S. auto sales fell slightly from January to February; construction spending in the United States fell one percent from December 2016 to January 2017, but rose 3.1 percent from January 2016 to January 2017; personal incomes in the United States rose 0.4 percent between December and January; and the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index rose to 114.8 in February, up from 111.6 in January.