North American Data

June 9, 2011

The United States and Canada released April trade figures.  The headline U.S. goods and services deficit looked encouraging, contracting $3.1 billion or 6.7%, but the census-basis merchandise trade shortfall only narrowed $15 million (0.03%) and was concentrated in an 11.5% decline in the deficit with OPEC.  The deficit with China was $3.5 billion wider in April than March.  The goods and services deficit in the first third of 2011 was 14.5% greater than a year earlier.  Canada’s trade deficit meanwhile more than doubled in April to CAD 924 million from CAD 417 million in March and CAD 213 million a year earlier.  Non-energy exports sank 2.8% in the latest month, including drops of 7.8% in machinery and equipment, 3.8% in industrial goods and materials and 6.6% in non-auto consumer goods.

U.S. jobless insurance claims are becoming increasingly entrenched above 400,000, the psychological barrier between an improving and a worsening labor market.  They stood at 427K last week and averaged 424K over the past four weeks versus 437K in the four weeks to May 7 and 391K in the eight weeks to April 9.  Canadian house price inflation remained positive but unchanged in April at 1.9% and continues to show greater resilience than its U.S. counterpart.  It was fashionable during the Great Recession to say the U.S. downturn would only end when both the labor and housing markets stabilized and then improved.  Temporary improvement occurred in each instance, but both areas are deteriorating again.

Copyright Larry Greenberg 2011.  All rights reserved.  No secondary distribution without express permission.



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