U.S., Canadian Economic Growth Fall From Previous Levels
- The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.9 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2017, down from the 3.2 percent rate in the third quarter. In related news, the Federal Reserve Board of Chicago announced that its National Activity Index increased to +0.88 in February from +0.02 in January, a reading that points to a pickup in economic growth in the middle of the first quarter of 2018.
- The Canadian economy contracted 0.1 percent from December 2017 to January 2018 due to “sharp declines in oil production and real estate.” Growth advanced 2.7 percent between January 2017 to January 2018. However, according to Bloomberg, “January’s output drop puts the economy on track for sub-2 percent growth for a third straight quarter. That would be the slowest stretch since 2015.”
- According to American Metal Market (subscription required), global crude steel production increased 3.5 percent between February 2017 and February 2018, “thanks in part to a sizable output increase in China.” Output in China increased nearly six percent. Production in North American fell 2.35 percent.
- According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, the rate of production, new orders, shipments, and employment in the Texas manufacturing sector fell in March. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s index also fell, to +15 in March from +28 in February as shipments, new orders, and employment all slowed down.
- The U.S. jobs market continues to show signs of strength. According to the U.S. Labor Department, 215,000 individuals filed for federal unemployment benefits during the week that ended March 24, down from 227,000 the week before. That figure is now at its lowest level since January 27, 1973. The four-week moving average of first-time claims also fell while the number of individuals who continued to file for unemployment benefits increased. That figure rose to 1.871 million for the week that ended March 17 from 1.836 million the week before. The four-week moving average of continuing claims was down, however.
- In other economic news: the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index increased to 101.4 in March from 99.7 in February and is now at its highest level since 2004; the Conference Board’s consumer confidence rating fell, declining to 127.7 in March from 130.0 in February; and personal incomes in the United States increased $67.3 billion (0.4 percent) from January 2018 to February 2018 while consumer spending rose 0.2 percent.