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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders & Shipments Backpedal
by Tom Moeller  June 2, 2011

Manufacturing orders pulled back 1.2% during April after a 3.8% March jump, revised up from 3.0%. Consensus expectations were for a 1.0% decline in total factory orders. For durable goods only, orders fell an unrevised 3.6%. As indicated last week, much of the decline in durables was due to aircraft. Nondurable goods orders, which equal shipments, rose 0.6% (14.6% y/y). Apparel shipments rose 0.9% (5.3% y/y) but chemical shipments fell 0.3% (+1.0% y/y).

Inventory building continued strong at 1.3% (12.3% y/y), although the figure was biased due to higher oil prices. Durable inventories jumped 0.9% (12.7% y/y) but nondurables surged 1.9% due to the 6.2% jump (35.6% y/y) in petroleum. Growth in unfilled orders moderated to 0.3% for the month. The 5.4% y/y gain masks, however, the strength of a 12.6% rise in backlogs less the transportation sector. It was led by a 31.2% y/y gain in backlogs of machinery orders and a 22.3% gain in electrical equipment, appliances & components.

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

Assessing Potential Financial Imbalances in an Era of Accommodative Monetary Policy is yesterday's speech by Fed Vice Chair Janet L. Yellen and it can be found here.

Factory Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Orders -1.2 3.8 -0.3 10.5 12.9 -17.7 0.5
Shipments -0.2 3.1 0.2 10.9 8.6 -18.5 2.3
Inventories 1.3 1.4 1.2 12.3 8.7 -6.8 -2.1
Backlogs 0.3 0.7 0.5 5.4 3.9 -15.2 4.3
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