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US Retail Sales & Jobs Data Slightly Improve

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The focus is back on the US economy this afternoon as a significant batch of US economic data has just been released in one tranche.

The headline release is the February Retail Sales figure, this has come in at 0.3% month on month, expectations were for a 0.2% increase following Januarys -0.4% contraction. The less significant ex-Autos number rose to 0.3% from a flat 0% last month.

On the employment front, the Continuing Jobless Claims data shows a slight improvement with 2.855M people available for work but without a Job. A better indicator of the direction of the economy is the Initial Jobless Claims figure which captures the number of newly unemployed individuals in the US economy, this currently stands at 315k, slightly but not significantly lower than the previous reading of 323k.

Finally, February’s Import and Export Price Indices have also just been made available. The price of imported goods into the US economy has fallen by -1.1% year on year, the pace of the fall in this statistic has reduced from last months -1.5% contraction. On the export side, prices have also continued to fall, this months figure shows a -1.3% contraction compared to a previous month reading of -1.2%. Import prices tend to contribute directly to inflation so today’s number can be considered bullish for the US economy. Export prices on the other hand give an indication of the medium term trade lead prospects for the US, falling export prices generally contribute to a foreign demand lead pick up in trade balance figures.

There are no real surprises, positive or negative, contained within today’s round of data releases. This is exactly what markets are looking for from the US right now, on aggregate this tranche of US data provides a confirmation that the US economic recovery is beginning to stabilize.

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