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May 9, 2016

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: Trade, Jobs Data For U.S., Canada

  • The U.S. trade deficit fell to $40.4 billion in March from $47.0 billion in February. The value of exports and imports both declined in March, but exports were down by just $1.5 billion while imports fell $8.1 billion. The goods deficit fell to $58.5 billion in March from $64.5 billion in February. Year-over-year, the overall trade deficit was down 0.8 percent.
  • Canada’s trade deficit rose to a record C$3.41 billion in March as Canadian exports to the United States hit their lowest level since the Great Recession. Overall exports declined by 4.8 percent to C$41 billion while exports to the United States fell 6.3 percent in March and were down 13 percent in February and March combined.
  • New orders for factory goods in the United Sates rose 1.1 percent from February to March while shipments rose 0.5 percent to $464.7 billion. The number of unfilled orders fell 0.1 percent and the unfilled-orders-to-shipments ratio dropped to 7.01 from 7.02. Inventories were up 0.2 percent and the inventory-to-shipments ratio held steady at 1.37.
  • The Markit purchasing managers index (PMI) for the United States fell to 50.8 in April from 51.5 in March. Markit said, “April data indicated that U.S. manufacturers started the second quarter of 2016 with a renewed slowdown in production and new business growth. At the same time, employment levels were close to stagnation and input buying dropped at the fastest pace for two-and- a-half years, amid reports of slower than expected demand during the latest survey period.” The Institute for Supply Management PMI, meanwhile, fell to 50.8 in April from 51.8 in March as new orders and production declined.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada PMI rose to 52.2 in April, its highest level since December 2014, from 51.5 in March. Readings for output, new orders, and employment all rebounded last month.  
  • The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs in April and the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at five percent. Manufacturers added 4,000 jobs last month, but employment in the sector was down by 19,000 between April 2015 and April 2016. In other employment news, the Department of Labor announced that the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits rose to 274,000 for the week that ended April 30 from 257,000 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. That figure dropped to 2.121 million, its lowest level since November 2000, for the week that ended April 23 from 2.129 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also fell.
  • According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian economy lost 2,100 jobs in April and the nation’s jobless rate remained at 7.1 percent, the same level it was at in March. Part-time employment was up, but full-time employment declined by 24,000 last month. The manufacturing sector also lost jobs in April and, year-over-year, manufacturing employment is down 0.9 percent in Canada.
  • In other economic news: the U.S. Department of Labor said U.S. labor productivity fell at a one percent annualized rate in the first quarter of 2016; led by a 14.4 percent increase in Honda sales, U.S. auto sales rose at an annualized pace of 17.40 million in April; and U.S. construction spending increased 0.3 percent from February 2016 to March 2016 and eight percent between March 2015 and March 2016.