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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders & Shipments Jump
by Tom Moeller  May 3, 2011

Factory sector activity recovered during March. Manufacturing orders jumped 3.0% after a 0.7% February gain that was revised up from a  0.1% slip reported earlier. For durable goods only, orders rose 2.9%, revised from the 2.5% increase reported last week. Consensus expectations were for a 1.9% increase in total factory orders. As a result of the strong monthly increase, y/y growth rose to 11.5%. The strength in orders was accompanied by a 2.7% increase in shipments. As reported earlier, much of the monthly gain was due to the transportation sector.

A strong rate of inventory building continued to power the gains in orders & shipments. The 1.1% monthly increase raised the y/y gain to 10.3%. These improvements in shipments, inventories and orders mirror the strength in March industrial production reported earlier this month. Unfilled orders also continued to strengthen last month by 0.8%. The 5.8% y/y gain masks, however, the strength of a 13.1% rise in backlogs less the transportation sector. It was led by a 29.4% y/y gain in backlogs of machinery orders and a 22.3% gain in electrical equipment, appliance & components.

The factory orders figures are available in Haver's USECON database.

Factory Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Orders 3.0 0.7 3.3 11.5 12.1 -17.8 -1.0
Shipments 2.7 0.6 1.7 9.9 9.1 -15.6 2.3
Inventories 1.1 1.0 1.5 10.3 8.3 -8.8 -0.8
Backlogs 0.8 0.7 0.8 5.8 4.0 -11.1 2.8
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