March 31, 2024

U.S., Canadian Economies Post Strong Growth

Connecting the Dots monitors all major economic announcements in the United States and Canada, but MSCI also offers industrial metals industry-specific data products that provide much deeper analysis and insight. Visit MSCI’s website and click on industry data to learn more about our Metals Activity Report (MAR)Momentum Monitors, and Economic Pulse.

Meanwhile, here are the major economic headlines from the last week:

  • Canada’s economy grew 0.6 percent from December 2023 to January 2024. Services-producing industries expanded 0.7 percent while goods-producing industries were up 0.2 percent due to rebounds in utilities and manufacturing. Overall, 18 of 20 sectors expanded in January.
  • The U.S. economy expanded at a 3.4 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter, above the agency’s previous estimate of 3.2 percent. The improved report primarily reflected upward revisions in consumer spending and nonresidential fixed investment that were partly offset by a downward revision to private inventory investment. In related news, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s National Activity Index, a gauge of future growth, rose to +0.05 in February from -0.54 in January. All four broad categories of indicators improved. Read the report here.
  • Regional manufacturing readings from last month indicated industry weakness. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, manufacturing output in the Midwest was weaker in March. The bank’s composite index was -7 in March, down from -4 in February, due to declines for both durable and nondurable goods. Primary metal, electrical equipment, and paper manufacturing drove the weakness. Read the full report here. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s manufacturing index reading fell to -11 in March from -5 in February. It was the fifth consecutive month of contraction. Shipments, new orders, and employment all pointed to a downbeat outlook for the sector. Read that report here. The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas announced that Texas factory activity also weakened in March. The bank’s production index fell five points to -4.1. The new orders index dropped 17 points to -11.8, the capacity utilization index fell five points to -5.7, and the shipments index plunged from +0.1 to -15.4. Read that report here.
  • Personal incomes in the United States increased 0.3 percent between January 2024 and February 2024 while the personal consumption expenditures price index, which is the Federal Reserve’s preferred way of measuring inflation, rose 0.3 percent, and remains above the Fed’s goal rate.
  • The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits for the first time fell by 2,000 to 210,000 during the week that ended March 23. Averaged over the past four weeks, first-time claims increased to 211,000. In all, roughly 1.819 million people claimed jobless benefits in the United States during the week that ended March 16.
  • In other economic news: the University of Michigan index of consumer sentiment rose to 79.4 in March, its highest level since July 2021, up from 76.9 in February; the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index was 104.7 in March, essentially unchanged from 104.8 in February; and sales of new homes in the United States fell 0.3 percent between January 2024 and February 2024, but were up 5.9 percent between February 2023 and February 2024. The number of pending home sales in the United States was higher in February, meanwhile.

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