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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Inventories Unchanged
by Tom Moeller July 5, 2005

Factory inventories were unchanged in May following a downwardly revised slight decline in April. Three month growth in inventories fell to 2.7% (AR) from the peak rate of growth near 12% in March and that slowdown explains much of the slowdown in factory output growth.

Slower rates of inventory accumulation continue notable in the furniture industry where three month growth fell to 2.3% from versus the high of 28.4% and in the electrical equipment industry where growth in inventories fell to 6.0% with outright decumulation in May. The level of computer inventories has been declining this year with three month growth at -4.6% versus a peak of 13% last summer.

Factory shipments were roughly unchanged in May but three month growth improved to 9.2% due to rebounds in computers and heavy duty trucks.

Orders to the factory sector jumped 2.9% due to the unrevised 5.5% surge in durable goods orders.

Unfilled orders jumped 1.9% due to the 10.6% spike in unfilled orders for aircraft & parts. Less transportation altogether backlogs fell 0.1% (+7.6% y/y). The ratio of unfilled orders to shipments outside of transportation has moved sideways since early last year.

Trends in Hours, Balanced Growth and the Role of Technology in the Business Cycle from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

Factory Survey (NAICS) May April Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Inventories 0.0% -0.0% 7.7% 7.5% -1.3% -1.8%
New Orders 2.9% 0.7% 9.3% 10.9% 3.7% -1.9%
Shipments -0.0% 0.7% 7.2% 10.5% 2.6% -2.0%
Unfilled Orders 1.9% -0.1% 7.5% 9.1% 4.2% -6.1%
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