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April 10, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: U.S. Trade Deficit Improves While Canada’s Widens

  • The United States ran a trade deficit of $43.6 billion in February, down from $48.2 billion in January, the U.S. Commerce Department announced last week. The improved reading reflected a drop in the goods deficit of $4.6 billion, to $65 billion in February, from $69.6 billion in January. The overall deficit (goods and services) was 3.1 percent higher than it was in February 2016.
  • Canada ran a $972 million trade deficit in February. Analysts had predicted the country would run a surplus of $500 million in February. Exports dropped 2.4 percent from January to February while the value of imports increased 0.6 percent. Despite the negative reading, the data showed that Canada ran a surplus of $4.5 billion with the United States.
  • The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced last week that the U.S. economy added 98,000 jobs in March while the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent in February. Manufacturers in the United States added 11,000 jobs last month. The DOL also announced last week that the number of individuals who filed for federal unemployment benefits fell to 234,000 for the week that ended April 1 from 259,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also declined, as did the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits. That figure dropped to 2.028 million for the week that ended March 25, from 2.052 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined.
  • The Canadian economy added 19,400 jobs in March while the nation’s unemployment rate increased slightly, from 6.6 percent in February to 6.7 percent in March. The manufacturing industry in Canada added 24,400 jobs last month, the largest one-month increase since August 2002. Wages in Canada were up 1.1 percent over the previous March.
  • The Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the United States fell to 57.2 in March from 57.9 in February due to small reductions in the readings for new orders and production. (ISM’s employment index improved last month.) The Markit PMI for the United States also declined last month, to 53.3 in March from 54.2 in February.
  • The Markit PMI for Canada rose to 55.5 in March, its highest level in more than three years, from 54.7 in February due to “robust” increases in output, new orders and employment.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau, new orders for manufactured goods rose one percent in February while shipments increased 0.3 percent. The number of unfilled orders was largely unchanged while the value of shipments increased 0.2 percent. The inventory-to-shipments ratio was unchanged in February while the unfilled orders-to-shipment ratio fell to 6.53 in February from 6.57 in January.
  • In other economic news: construction spending in the United States increased 0.8 percent from January 2017 to February 2017 and three percent from February 2016 to February 2017.