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April 4, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Canada Hits Fastest Growth Rate In Nearly 3 Years

  • According to Statistics Canada, the nation’s economy expanded 0.6 percent from December 2015 to January 2016, its fastest growth rate since the middle of 2013 and nearly twice the rate analysts had anticipated. On an annualized basis, the Canadian economy has expanded a five percent rate over the last three months. Manufacturing expanded 1.9 percent in January.
  • The U.S. economy added 215,000 jobs in March while the nation’s unemployment rate ticked up to five percent last month from 4.9 percent in February. (The uptick is likely due to the fact that individuals are re-entering the workforce.) Despite the overall positive reading, manufacturers lost 29,000 jobs in March. Also last week: the U.S. Department of Labor announced the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits had increased to 276,000 for the week that ended March 26 from 265,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also rose, while the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits fell to 2.173 million for the week that ended March 19 from 2.18 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also dropped, to about 2.19 million from 2.2 million.
  • The Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for the United States ticked up slightly last month, rising to 51.5 from 51.3 in February, as the pace of new orders quickened. The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) PMI, meanwhile, increased from 51.8 in March from 49.5 in February. According to ISM, 12 of 18 manufacturing industries, including fabricated metal products and primary metals, grew last month.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada PMI rose to 51.5 in March from 49.4 in February due to stronger export demand. Chief Economist Craig Wright said,  “In the remainder of 2016, we expect manufacturing conditions to continue to improve, driven by firm U.S. domestic demand and a weaker Canadian dollar which will drive demand for exports of autos, consumer goods, machinery, equipment and lumber.”
  • According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the manufacturing industry in Texas improved slightly in March as the bank’s regional manufacturing survey improved to -13.6 in March from -31.8 in February. While the survey was still below the zero mark that indicates the industry is contracting, readings for production, new orders, shipments and employment all improved last month.
  • In other economic news: personal incomes in the United States increased 0.2 percent between January 2015 and February 2015; construction spending fell 0.5 percent from January to February, but was up 10.3 percent from February 2015 to February 2016; and the Conference Board’s index of consumer confidence for the United States increased to 96.2 in March from 94.0 in February.