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In the News This Week

On a positive note, the economy added 295,000 jobs in February, marking the 12th straight month that payrolls have increased by at least 200,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.5% – the lowest since May 2008. The drop in the jobless rate was a reflection of both an increase in hiring as well as a decline in the labor force.

Americans cut their spending for a second month in a row for the first time since 2009. Consumer spending fell .2% in January due to cheaper energy prices, which dropped 18% for the month. Consumers are pocketing the extra money from lower gas prices as the savings rate rose to 5.5%.

Construction spending declined in January, sliding 1.1% to an annual rate of $971.4 billion, led by a drop in public spending. Private construction spending fell .5% while public outlays dipped 2.6%.

Also on a negative note, the manufacturing sector slowed in February, marking the fourth straight monthly decline. The ISM manufacturing index slipped to 52.9%, with sub-indexes measuring employment and exports both declining.

On a brighter note, the service sector expanded in February as the ISM non-manufacturing index edged up to 56.9%. Though new orders fell, the gauge of employment rose to the highest level in seven months.

The trade deficit narrowed sharply in January, falling 8.3% to $41.8 billion, as imports and exports fell. Imports dropped to $231.1 billion while exports slipped to $189.4 billion.



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