U.S. job growth lost steam in March, adding only 98,000 jobs. Economists had been anticipating a gain of about 180,000. The unemployment rate was at 4.5% (down from 4.7% in February), the lowest level in almost a decade.
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in February to a four-month low as imports declined and exports improved amid a brighter outlook for global manufacturing. The gap decreased to $43.6 billion, down 9.6% from a revised $48.2 billion in January.
U.S. final fourth quarter gross domestic product increased at a 2.1% pace instead of the estimated 2.0%, the Commerce Department said on March 30. There are indications that activity moderated further at the start of 2017.
The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) returned to growth in February after a weak showing in January. The American Institute of Architects reported the February ABI score was 50.7, up from a score of 49.5 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor increase in design services as a score above 50 indicates an increase in billings.
The March Purchasing Managers Index registered at 57.2%, a decrease of 0.5 percentage point from the February reading of 57.7%. The New Orders Index registered 64.5%, down 0.6 percentage point from February. The Production Index registered at 57.6%, 5.3 percentage points lower than the February reading.
The U.S. manufacturing index has increased in six of the last seven months, underscoring building optimism among factory managers. America’s factories continued to expand in March, demonstrating momentum in an industry that struggled for the better part of the last two years, according to the latest data from the Institute for Supply Management. ISM’s diffusion index eased to 57.2 from February’s 57.7, which was the highest since August 2014. Readings above 50 indicate growth.
For more information, view the April 2017 ONI Insight Guide below or contact your local sales representative.ONI Insight April 2017