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The manufacturing sector grew at a slower pace in March than in February according to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), with new export orders and the backlog of existing orders growing at a faster pace than all new orders and production. Inflationary pressures increased for manufacturers with commodity prices increasing and supplies decreasing. Employment was at the highest level since June 2011, and survey respondents indicated they were facing challenges in finding talent.
In line with last week’s advance estimate, the February U.S. trade deficit decreased by $4.6 billion to $43.6 billion, down from January’s $48.2 billion deficit. The decrease was largely due to a $4.1 billion drop in imported goods, primarily automobiles and consumer goods, with a $0.4 billion increase in exported goods, and a less than $0.1 billion increase in service exports. February’s $17.8 billion export of consumer goods was the highest on record, and its $13.8 billion export of automobiles and parts was the highest since July 2014.
The unemployment rate for March dropped to 4.5%, but a lower than expected 98,000 jobs were added for the month, and January and February’s new jobs numbers were both revised downward, bringing the average job gains for the last 3 months to 138,000/month. Employment was up in professional and business services, mining, healthcare, and financial activities, but down in retail trade. Hourly wages increased by 0.2%, bringing the earnings gain for the past 12 months to 2.7%.
Thursday Apr 13 – Producer Price Index (PPI-FD)
Friday Apr 14 – Retail Sales