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April 9, 2018 | by    

This Week’s Top Economic News: U.S. Canadian Trade Deficits Both Expanded In February

  • The U.S. trade deficit increased by $900 million between January 2018 and February 2018 and is now at a new record of $56.7 billion. The deficit increased 22.7 percent between February 2017 and February 2018. Click here for the Commerce Department’s full report.
  • Canada’s trade deficit increased to C$2.7 billion in February from C$1.9 billion in January. The value of Canadian imports rose 1.9 percent while the value of its exports increased just 0.4 percent. Canada’s trade surplus with the United States declined 1.9 percent to C$2.6 billion.
  • The U.S. economy added 103,000 jobs in March as the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent. The labor force participation rate fell slightly, to 62.9 percent in March from 63.0 percent in February. Manufacturers added 22,000 jobs last month. In other employment-related news: 242,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended March 31, up from 218,000 the week before. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also rose. The number of individuals who continued to file for benefits fell, however, to 1.808 million during the week that ended March 24 from 1.872 million the week before. The number of continuing claims is now at its lowest level since December 1973. The four-week moving average of continuing claims also declined and is now at its lowest level since January 1974.
  • New orders for manufactured goods in the United States increased 1.2 percent in February while shipments rose 0.2 percent. The value of unfilled orders also increased 0.2 percent and the unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio dropped to 6.49 in February from 6.52 in January. Inventories rose 0.3 percent and the inventories-to-shipments ratio held steady at 1.35.
  • The Institute for Supply Management purchasing managers index (PMI) for the United States fell to 59.3 in March from 60.3 in February. The metals products and primary metals sectors expanded in March, however. The IHS/Markit PMI for the United States increased to 55.6 in March from 55.3 in February due to increases in output and new orders. Canada’s IHS/Markit PMI increased to 55.7 from 55.6, also because of a rise in output and new orders.
  • In other economic news: the number of autos sold in Canada fell 0.6 percent between March 2017 and March 2018; auto sales in the United States increased 2.5 percent between March 2017 and March 2018; and construction spending in the United States increased 0.1 percent between January 2018 and February 2018 and three percent between the February 2017 and February 2018.