- In the U.S., job growth continued and consumer confidence dropped. Overseas, in the U.K. and eurozone, industrial production declined.
- Retail sales slipped in February for the third-consecutive month, though by less than in January. While sales were weak across a majority of sectors, auto sales fell most significantly. Consumer spending remains sluggish despite greater discretionary income.
- Consumer sentiment continued to drop in March, according to the University of Michigan, missing expectations and reaching its lowest reading since November. The current conditions reading deteriorated (underscoring February’s disappointing retail sales), as did expectations for jobs and income.
- Business inventories were flat for the second-consecutive month in January (based on revised December data), despite declining sales over both periods. Additionally, the sluggish retail sales report for February suggests rising inventories relative to sales.
- Producer prices decreased again in February, despite forecasts for an increase. Energy prices were unchanged, while food prices declined. Excluding food, energy and trade services, prices were flat for the month.
- Import prices edged upward in February, reflecting a large jump in petroleum prices. Export prices continued to fall, though only by 0.1%, mainly within agriculture. Both international trade price measures continued to decline in the year over year.
- U.S. initial jobless claims for the week ending March 7 dropped by 36,000 to 289,000, falling more than expected. While this pushed the four-week moving average (which evens out weekly volatility) lower, the figure remained significantly higher compared to a month earlier. Continuing claims (reflecting delayed data) for the week ending February 28 declined as well.
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey reported a slight increase to just fewer than five million job openings at the end of January, reflecting the highest number since January 2001.
- U.K. industrial production slipped in January, moving lower for the third time in four months, while still expanding in the year over year. Manufacturing fell sharply during the month, on reversals in the computer, electronic and optical product areas—weighing on the sector’s year-over-year expansion rate.
- The U.K. international trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in January. Oil imports dropped sharply, attributable to falling energy prices. Overall declines in both imports and exports offset December’s advances; however, excluding volatile items (e.g., oil), the deficit is as its lowest point since 2013.
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