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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders Recover Along With Backlogs
by Tom Moeller  April 3, 2012

Orders in the manufacturing sector recovered 1.3% (9.0% y/y) during February and reversed a little-revised 1.1% January slump. The rise reflected a 2.4% gain in orders for durable goods. That was little-changed from the advance report of a 2.2% increase reported last week. In the nondurable goods sector, where orders equal shipments, petroleum shipments led the advance with a 3.0% (12.5% y/y) rise with higher prices. Basic chemicals also rose 0.4% (4.7% y/y). Elsewhere, shipments were weak. Apparel shipments declined 2.1% (+15.7% y/y) and paper products slipped 0.2% (-3.1% y/y). Shipments of food products were down 3.0% (+2.1% y/y).

Unfilled orders rose a faster 1.3% (10.6% y/y) as shipments lagged the orders gain with a 0.1% (7.1% y/y) uptick. Much of the backlog rise reflected a 2.0% (25.5% y/y) increase in machinery and a 1.6% gain (11.2% y/y) in transportation equipment. Shipments from the nondurables sector rose 0.4% (6.2% y/y) but durable goods shipments fell 0.4% (+8.3% y/y)

Inventories in the factory sector increased another 0.4% (7.9% y/y) during February as durable goods inventories rose 0.4% (9.4% y/y). Nondurables inventories rose 0.3% (5.5% y/y) reflecting a 2.0% (14.4% y/y) jump in oil. Elsewhere inventories were little-changed.

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

Factory Sector - NAICS Classification (%) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Orders 1.3 -1.1 1.4 9.0 12.2 12.9 -21.7
Shipments 0.1 0.6 0.8 7.1 11.3 8.6 -18.5
Inventories 0.4 0.6 0.2 7.9 9.5 8.7 -6.8
Unfilled Orders 1.3 0.7 1.5 10.6 9.7 3.9 -15.2
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