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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders Improve Modestly But Backlogs Are Strong
by Tom Moeller  November 3, 2011

Manufacturing orders rose 0.3% during September following a 0.1% August uptick, revised from the 0.2% slip reported last month. A 0.2% September dip had been expected. For durable goods only, orders fell 0.6%, roughly unchanged from the advance report of a 0.8% decline. Nondurable goods orders, which equal shipments, jumped 1.0% (15.2% y/y). The gain was powered by a 4.2% rise (42.5% y/y) in petroleum shipments, though prices were flat m/m. Offsetting that rise was a 0.6% decline (-2.6% y/y) in paper products and a 0.2% slip (+6.7% y/y) in chemicals.

Unfilled orders increased 0.9% for the third straight month. It was led by a one-third rise in backlogs of machinery and an 18.0% gain in electrical equipment, appliances & components. Transportation industry backlogs rose 0.8% and 4.5% y/y.

Inventories in the factory sector inched up 0.1% (11.8% y/y) during September following a little-revised 0.3% August gain. Durable goods inventories ticked up 0.1% (12.1% y/y). Nondurables inventories also ticked up 0.1% (11.2% y/y) as oil refineries rose 0.6% (30.0% y/y. Apparel inventories rose another 0.8% (16.8% y/y) and basic chemicals rose 0.4% (9.7% y/y). Food products fell 1.0% (+5.5% y/y).

The factory sector figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure is in AS1REPNA.

Factory Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Orders 0.3 0.1 2.1 10.6 12.9 -21.7 0.5
Shipments 0.3 0.1 1.2 11.6 8.6 -18.5 2.3
Inventories 0.1 0.3 0.6 11.8 8.7 -6.8 -2.1
Unfilled Orders 0.9 0.9 0.9 7.7 3.9 -15.2 4.3
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