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May 8, 2017

This Week’s Top Economic Data Points: U.S. Trade Deficit Up 7.5 Percent Year-Over-Year

  • The U.S. trade deficit fell to $43.7 billion in March, down from $43.8 billion in February. Exports in March totaled $191 billion, $1.7 billion less than in February while imports were $234.7 billion, $1.7 billion less than in February. From March 2016 to March 2017 the goods and services deficit increased $9.4 billion, or 7.5 percent. The goods deficit in March totaled $65.5 billion, up from $65.1 billion in February.
  • New orders for manufactured goods in the United States increased $0.8 billion, or 0.2 percent, to $478.2 billion from February to March. Shipments fell $0.5 billion, or 0.1 percent, to $478.8 billion. The number of unfilled orders increased $2.9 billion, or 0.3 percent, to $1,119.6 billion while the unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.52, down from 6.54 in February. Inventories, meanwhile, were virtually unchanged at $629.7 billion. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.32, up slightly from 1.31 in February.
  • The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs in April and the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent last month from 4.5 percent in March. Manufacturers added 6,000 jobs in April. In other employment-related news: 238,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits for the first time during the week that ended April 29, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s level of 257,000. The four-week moving average of first time claims increased, meanwhile, while the number of individuals who continued to file for benefits declined. That figure dropped to 1.964 million for the week that ended April 22, its lowest level since April 2000, from 1.987 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined.
  • The Institute for Supply Management Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the United States fell to 54.8 in April from 57.2 in March due to declines in employment and new orders. The Markit PMI for the United States, meanwhile, fell to 52.8 in April, down from 53.3 in March, due to weaker rates of output and new order growth.
  • The Markit PMI reading for Canada rose to 55.9 in April from 55.5 in March due to steep increases in new orders and employment. Markit said that business conditions in Canada improved at fastest pace since April 2011
  • In other economic news: Nonfarm business sector labor productivity in the United States decreased at a 0.6 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2017; personal incomes in the United States increased 0.2 percent from February 2017 to March 2017; and construction spending in the United States fell 0.2 percent from February to March, but was up 3.6 percent between March 2016 and March 2017.