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October 10, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Canadian Trade Situation Improves, U.S. Deficit Grows

  • The U.S. trade deficit increased to $40.7 billion in August from $39.5 billion in July. Exports rose $1.5 billion, but imports were up by more ($2.6 billion) at the end of the summer. The overall deficit was down 1.3 percent from August 2015 to August 2016, however. The goods deficit fell slightly, by $0.1 billion, from July to August while the services surplus also declined.
  • In a report that was much better than analysts had predicted, Statistics Canada announced last week that the nation’s trade deficit declined to $1.9 billion in August from $2.2 billion in July due in part to a large increase (7.7 percent) in exports to countries other than the United States. Overall exports rose 0.6 percent while imports were largely unchanged. According to The Canadian Press, “Higher imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products, consumer goods, and motor vehicles and parts were offset by lower imports of energy products.”
  • The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in September while the nation’s unemployment rate increased to five percent from 4.9 percent in August. Manufacturers lost 13,000 jobs last month. The Labor Department also announced last week that the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 249,000 for the week that ended Oct. 1 from 254,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell, as did the number of individuals who continued to receive benefits. That figure dropped to 2.058 million for the week that ended Sept. 24 from 2.064 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell.
  • New orders for manufactured goods in the United States rose 0.2 percent from July to August while shipments were unchanged. The number of unfilled orders fell 0.1 percent while the unfilled orders-to-shipments increased to 6.81 from 6.79. Inventories increased 0.2 percent and the inventories-to-shipments ratio remained unchanged at 1.36.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s Purchasing Management Index’s (PMI) rose to 51.5 in September from 49.4 in August due to a rise in the survey’s new orders, production, and employment indices. Meanwhile, the Markit PMI for the United States fell to 51.5 in September from 52.0 in August. The bank reported, “Slower rates of output and new order growth were the main factors weighing on the headline index, which more than offset a stronger contribution from the staff hiring component.”
  • The Royal Bank of Canada PMI fell to 50.3 in September from 51.1 in August. The bank found that production volumes stagnated last month, employment levels dropped, and new orders fell for the first time in seven months.
  • In other economic news: U.S. auto sales fell in September and U.S. construction spending was down 0.7 percent from July 2016 to August 2016 and 0.3 percent from August 2015 to August 2016.