- In the U.S., the labor market and the services sector both improved in March. Overseas, the U.K, the services sector increased in March, while the eurozone manufacturing and services sectors both gained in the same period.
- While initial jobless claims rose by 14,000 to 281,000 for the week ending April 4, the four-week moving average (which evens out volatility) declined for the third-consecutive week—reaching the lowest point since June 2000. Continuing claims for the week ending March 28 also fell to a record low.
- The U.S. Department of Labor’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey for February reflected a slight uptick to just over five million available jobs, reaching a level not seen since January 2001.
- Import prices declined in March, as projected, while export prices unexpectedly increased. Year-over-year import prices also dropped, falling for the seventh consecutive month and reaching a six-year low. Export prices in the one-year period remained in negative territory for the eighth straight month.
- Non-manufacturing industries continued to expand in March, according to the Institute for Supply Management, with gains in a majority of sectors. New and backlog orders contributed most, while employment reached a five-month peak. However, mining detracted and exports remained slow.
- The service sector outpaced expectations in March, growing at the fastest rate since August, according to Markit. New and backlog orders increased, as did business activity. However, a cooling business outlook may impact future hiring.
- Wholesale inventories improved in February, keeping the wholesale stock-to-sales ratio at its highest reading since 2009. Decreased sales of electrical goods, machinery and metals reflect weakness in the industrial economy.
- Oil inventories reached 482 million barrels during the week of April 3, an 80-year high, due to increases in domestic production and imports.
- The U.K. services sector unexpectedly moved higher in March, at the fastest pace since August. New orders rose for the twenty-seventh consecutive month, as backorders climbed and business sentiment strengthened. Employment slowed and input prices edged upward.
- Stronger energy prices resulted in an unanticipated rise in eurozone producer prices in February, the first positive gain in five months. Consumer goods edged upward, while capital goods remained flat. Prices remained substantially negative from a year earlier.
- The Bank of Japan voted to maintain its current key interest rate and government bond purchase program at its 8 April meeting. Recovery remains slow and falling energy prices have resulted in a year-over-year projection for consumer prices to flatten.
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