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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders Surge Led By Durables
by Tom Moeller  February 4, 2013

Orders to all manufacturers jumped 1.8% (0.7% y/y) to close out the year, following a 0.3% November slip. The rise roughly matched expectations. For all of 2012, an easing of strength in the factory sector was evidenced by the modest 2.7% rise in orders following double-digit gains gain during the prior two years. A 4.3% (-0.2% y/y) surge in December durable goods orders, little-revised from the advance report, accounted for the strength in overall orders in December. It was powered by higher defense orders. Orders for nondurable goods, which equal shipments, fell 0.3% (+1.6% y/y) after a 1.0% November decline. A nearly one-quarter drop (-11.3% y/y) in tobacco shipments led the weakness. That was followed by a 1.5% drop (-0.4% y/y) in shipments of apparel and a 1.0% decline in printing (-1.5% y/y). Shipments from petroleum refineries fell 0.6% (+4.6% y/y) after a 5.1% November drop as prices moved lower.

Inventories in the factory sector rose 0.1% (2.4% y/y), the gain held back by a 1.2% drop (-5.1% y/y) in petroleum refineries. Elsewhere, apparel inventories rose 1.2% (11.2% y/y) and chemical inventories increased 0.8% (-2.9% y/y). In the durable goods sector, inventories were roughly unchanged (4.6% y/y). A 1.1% rise (-0.7% y/y) in primary metals was offset by a 0.5% decline (+7.2% y/y) in machinery inventories. Order backlogs rose 0.8% (2.3% y/y) with a jump in orders and a moderate advance in shipments.

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


Factory Sector- NAICS Classification Dec Nov Oct Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
New Orders 1.8 -0.3 0.8 0.7 2.7 11.8 18.0
Shipments 0.4 0.3 0.3 3.0 4.1 11.8 11.2
Inventories 0.1 -0.0 -0.0 2.4 2.4 9.4 8.8
Unfilled Orders 0.8 0.0 0.3 2.3 2.3 10.3 9.6
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