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April 8, 1999

The index of U.S. import prices rose 0.1 percent in March. There
was a 0.4 percent drop in nonpetroleum import prices, which was
more than offset by a 7.7 percent jump in petroleum prices. Total
import prices rose 0.3 percent in the first quarter, the first increase
in nine quarters.
For the week ending April 3, initial claims for state unemployment
insurance benefits totaled 299,000. Averaged over the last four
weeks, claims totaled 295,250, down 4.8 percent from a year earlier.
Following a 0.5 percent rise in January, the index of leading
economic indicators rose 0.2 percent in February. The leading
index declined last in June 1998 and has not posted two
consecutive months of declines since April-May 1995.
The National Association of Purchasing Managers’ index of
non-manufacturing activity (mostly services) rose 5.8 percent in
the first quarter. Measured from four quarters earlier, however,
it is down 0.5 percent.
Nonagricultural employment, following gains of 297,000 in
February and 217,000 in January, rose 46,000 in March. Still,
nonfarm payrolls rose at a 2.3 percent annual rate during the
first quarter, 0.1 percentage points more than the fourth
quarter of 1998.
Total bank credit rose $9.4 billion during the week ending March 24.
Although bank credit has declined 0.8 percent year-to-date, it is
up 6.5 percent from a year earlier (see Page 10).
All data are seasonally adjusted unless otherwise indicated.
U.S. Financial Data is published weekly by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of
St. Louis. For more information on data, please call (314) 444-8590. To be added to the mailing
list, please call (314) 444-8808 or (314) 444-8809.
Information in this publication is also included in the Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) electronic
bulletin board at (314) 621-1824 or internet World Wide Web server at

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102