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April 3, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: U.S. Manufacturers Outlook Best In 20 Years

  • The United States economy expanded at a 2.1 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2016, down from 3.5 percent growth in the third quarter.
  • The Canadian economy expanded 0.6 percent in January, the country’s fastest rate of growth in almost six years and more than double the rate that analysts had predicted. The positive report was driven by a 1.9 percent expansion in manufacturing.
  • According to the National Association of Manufacturers, its Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey is at its highest level in 20 years. The NAM said last week that more than 93 percent of manufacturers feel positive about their economic outlook, up from 56.6 percent one year ago and from 77.8 percent in December.
  • Regional manufacturing indexes have been mixed so far for the month of March. The Federal Reserve Board of Richmond announced that its reading improved to +22 in March from +17 in February and is now at its highest level since August 2010. The Federal Reserve Board of Dallas, however, said that its manufacturing reading dropped to +16.9 in March from +24.9 in February due to declines in production and new orders.
  • According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits for the week that ended March 25 fell to 258,000 from 261,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims rose, however, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure increased to 2.052 million for the week that ended March 18 from 1.987 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims fell slightly.
  • In other economic news: the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index increased to 96.9 in March from 96.3 in February; the Conference Board index of consumer confidence soared to 125.6 in March from 116.1 in February; and personal incomes in the United States increased 0.4 percent from January to February.