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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Inventories Slip
by Tom Moeller November 3, 2005

Factory inventories fell another 0.1% in September following a deepened 0.2% decline in August even though higher prices recently have boosted petroleum inventories, (+24.9% y/y). Less petroleum, factory inventories fell 0.1% (+4.1% y/y) in September for the third decline in the last four months and have been virtually unchanged since March.

Inventory declines last month centered mostly in nondurables industries where textile products fell 0.9% (-0.1% y/y) and paper products fell 0.8% (+2.5% y/y). Plastics & rubber products also fell a sharp 1.8% (+6.4% y/y) and paints & coatings inventories fell 1.0% (+6.3% y/y).

Electrical equipment inventories rose 1.0% (3.2% y/y) after four months of declines while machinery inventories rose 0.2% (9.3% y/y). Computers & electronic components rose 0.1% (-0.3% y/y) but electronic computer inventories rose 4.4% (0.9% y/y).

Factory shipments fell 0.5% after an upwardly revised 2.1% surge in August, however, less a 3.4% jump in shipments from petroleum refineries factory shipments fell 0.9% (3.9% y/y).

Factory sector orders fell 1.7%. The advance report of a 2.1% drop in durables goods orders was revised to -2.4%.

Unfilled orders jumped 0.7% on top of the 1.6% August spurt. Less the transportation sector backlogs surged 1.2% (8.9% y/y) and the ratio of unfilled orders to shipments jumped.

Factory Survey (NAICS) Sept Aug Y/Y 2004 2003 2002
Inventories -0.1% -0.2% 4.9% 7.7% -1.1% -5.4%
New Orders -1.7% 2.9% 7.0% 9.3% 3.5% -2.5%
Shipments -0.5% 2.1% 6.6% 9.5% 1.5% -2.5%
Unfilled Orders 0.7% 1.6% 10.4% 8.4% 8.0% -8.5%
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