- U.S. and global stocks advanced on Friday after U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Janet Yellen and three of her predecessors agreed that a U.S. recession in 2016 is unlikely, but closed lower for the week. Oil prices jumped over 6%, although volatility is expected to remain ahead of an April 18 OPEC meeting.
- U.S. jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 267,000 for the week ending April 2, the first decrease in four weeks. Continuing claims rose by 19,000 to 2,191,000 for the week ending March 26. The full report nevertheless points to a continued healthy job market.
- U.S. consumer borrowing expanded by $17.22 billion in February, more than expected. Overall consumer credit moved up by an annual rate of 5.82% in February, and has increased each month for the past four-and-a-half years — a sign of consistent strength in consumer sentiment.
- While U.S. mortgage purchase applications dropped by 2% in the week ending April 1, refinancing applications surged by 7% due to low interest rates.
- Growth in non-manufacturing sectors firmed in March, thanks to expanding new and backlog orders, according to the Institute for Supply Management. Service-sector activity returned to a modest advance, according to Markit, although new orders still lagged.
- U.S. factory orders dropped by 1.7% in February, a reversal of January’s 1.2% gain. Weakness in petroleum and coal products as well as a sharp decline in durable goods orders point to a lack of confidence in business investment.
- Rising domestic demand, coupled with sluggish growth abroad, caused the U.S. trade gap to grow by 2.6% in February, the highest level since August.
- U.K. service-sector activity expanded in March, but by slightly less than expected. New business continued to move higher, albeit at the slowest rate since January 2013. Optimism for the coming year was muted, and confidence levels dipped close to the lowest level in three years on uncertainty about the U.K.’s continued European Union membership.
- Eurozone business growth edged upward in March by less than projected, as manufacturing and services kept pace with each other. New orders and output growth slid to their lowest levels since January 2015, raising concerns about broad first-quarter economic growth.
- Overall business activity in China rallied in March, according to the country’s composite purchasing manager’s index (PMI). Manufacturing output moved into positive territory after 11 months of contraction, and growth in the services activity strengthened slightly.
- Japan’s services PMI reading came in at 50 (the break-even point between expansion and contraction) for March, but sluggish manufacturing output caused the composite index to contract. New services orders lagged after an 11-month period of expansion.
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