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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Inventories Rose Again
by Tom Moeller September 3, 2008

Factory inventories rose 0.5% during July, lifted by a 3.5% surge in inventories of nondefense aircraft & parts. Less the transportation sector altogether the value of inventories rose 0.4%.

At petroleum refineries, inventories fell 1.9% (+37.1% y/y) after a revised 10.0% jump during June. The value still was up by more than one-half since December as prices have surged. Less petroleum, factory inventories rose 0.7% (5.8% y/y) during July after an upwardly revised 0.6% June increase. Inventories in the machinery sector rose 0.5% (5.8% y/y) while inventories of computers & electronics rose 0.4% (7.2 y/y).

Factory shipments jumped again last month. The 2.1% spike was due to a 3.8% (-10.5% y/y) surge in shipments of transportation equipment and a 2.0% (13.3% y/y) rise in apparel shipments.

Total factory orders surged 1.3% during July after the upwardly revised 2.1% June jump. Expectations had been for a 1.0% rise. The strength reflected stronger petroleum orders (which equal shipments). They rose 0.6% (48.8% y/y). Less petroleum, orders rose 1.4% (0.3% y/y). Durable orders repeated their June strength and rose 1.3% which was the same as reported in the advance report.

Overall unfilled orders rose 0.7%, a rate of increase that was down from the 1.0% June rise. Order backlogs for electronic computers fell slightly but order backlogs of machinery surged (23.2% y/y).

Factory Survey (NAICS, %) July June Y/Y 2007 2006 2005
Inventories 0.5 1.2 7.6 3.7 6.4 8.9
   Excluding Transportation 0.4 1.3 6.6 2.7 7.9 8.1
New Orders 1.3 2.1 5.3 1.9 6.2 11.9
   Excluding Transportation 1.0 2.7 10.6 1.2 7.4 11.7
Shipments 2.1 1.9 7.8 1.2 5.9 10.4
   Excluding Transportation 1.8 1.9 10.8 1.5 6.7 11.4
Unfilled Orders 0.7 1.0 13.7 17.1 15.3 15.4
  Excluding Transportation 1.0 1.4 10.0 8.2 16.0 9.2
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