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State unemployment drops to 7.3 percent

Thu., April 18, 2013

Washington’s jobless rate in March fell to 7.3 percent, the lowest monthly rate since December 2008.

The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has been stuck at 7.5 percent for the previous three months, the Employment Security Department said Wednesday.

Statewide sectors making the biggest gains in March were education and health services, up 1,800; manufacturing, up 900; retail, up 500; construction, up 400; and wholesale trade, up 200.

 Industries showing the largest job losses in March were government, down 4,600 jobs; professional and business services, down 2,500; other services, down 1,000; financial activities, down 900; and information, down 200.

In the government category, 1,500 of the job losses were in state agencies; 1,300 were in public higher education; 1,200 were in local government, mostly in K-12 schools; and 600 were from federal employment.

County jobless numbers will be released next week.

Japan trade deficit hits record $83.4 billion

TOKYO – Japan’s trade deficit rose to a record $83.4 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March, as exports faltered and costs for imported gas and crude oil rose.

Customs figures released today also showed a deficit for March, the ninth monthly deficit in a row, of $3.7 billion, down from February’s gap.

Exports fell 2.1 percent in the fiscal year from the year before, to $652.4 billion while imports rose 3.4 percent to $735.8 billion. The deficit of $83.4 billion was up 84 percent from the previous fiscal year’s $45.1 billion shortfall.

A sharp depreciation in Japan’s currency since late 2012 has failed to fully offset weak demand for Japan’s exports.

Piper Jaffray to buy Seattle-Northwest

MINNEAPOLIS – Investment bank Piper Jaffray Cos. said Wednesday that it is buying Seattle-Northwest Securities Corp. in a deal worth about $21 million.

Seattle-Northwest is a public finance firm specializing in underwriting municipal securities as well as the sale and trading of bonds. Piper Jaffray said the acquisition will boost its public finance business.

The deal is subject to approval by Seattle-Northwest’s shareholders as well as standard regulatory approval. It is expected to close in the second half of this year.

European car market lacking a motor

MILAN – Europe’s auto market is in freefall. Once the motor for Europe’s economy, the car industry has fallen victim to the region’s widening recession and soaring unemployment. Carmakers have suffered 18 straight months of declining sales as people worried that they might soon be out of a job put off making big purchases.

New car sales across Europe slid 10 percent in the first quarter of 2013 to 2.9 million, down from 3.3 million in 2012, the European automakers association ACEA reported from Brussels on Wednesday. Even in Germany, one of Europe’s strongest economies, new car sales plunged 13 percent during the first three months of the year.

Across the rest of Europe, the figures were just as disappointing. Most major markets saw double-digit contractions: down 11.5 percent in Spain, 13 percent in Italy and 14.6 percent in France.

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