February 12, 2024

United States, Canada Both Running Trade Deficits

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:

  • There was good news and bad last week when it came to the U.S. trade deficit. While the gap increased by 0.5 percent to $62.2 billion in December, for all of 2023 the deficit was at its lowest level in three years. Specifically, the 2023 goods and services deficit decreased $177.8 billion, or 18.7 percent, from 2022. Exports increased $35 billion, or 1.2 percent, while imports were down $142.7 billion or 3.6 percent. Read more here.
  • According to Statistics Canada, merchandise exports from the country decreased 1.9 percent in December while imports rose 0.2 percent. As a result, Canada’s merchandise trade balance with the world went from a surplus of $1.1 billion in November to a deficit of $312 million in December, the first monthly trade deficit since July 2024.
  • The Canadian economy added 37,300 jobs in January, more than double what economists had expected. The unemployment rate also fell to 5.7 percent from 5.8 percent in December, posting its first improvement in 13 months. The labor participation rate did fall to 65.3 percent in January from 65.5 percent in December, however, and the average hourly wage growth for permanent employees slowed to 5.3 percent from 5.7 percent in December.
  • Led by motor vehicle and machinery inventories, U.S. wholesale inventories rose 0.4 percent from November 2023 to December 2023, but were down 2.7 percent from December 2022 to December 2023. Without auto inventories included, inventories were up only 0.1 percent for the month.
  • The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits fell by 9,000 to 218,000 during the week that ended February 8. Averaged over the past four weeks, first-time claims declined to 212,750. In all, roughly 1.9 million people claimed benefits in the United States during the week that ended January 27.

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