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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Inventories Inch Higher
by Tom Moeller  May 5, 2014

The Commerce Department reported Friday that inventories in the factory sector notched up 0.1% (2.6% y/y) during March, moderating from a 0.7% February rise. Transportation equipment inventories gained 0.7% (9.8% y/y) while, excluding transportation, inventories slipped 0.1% (1.0% y/y). Furniture inventories increased 0.3% (1.0% y/y) while electrical equipment inventories gained 0.4% (-0.8% y/y) after four months of decline. Amongst nondurable goods industries, petroleum inventories were off 2.2% (-1.1% y/y) and plastics & rubber inventories fell 0.4% (+1.4% y/y). These declines were offset by a second consecutive 2.6% (19.4% y/y) jump in apparel. Basic chemical inventories rose 0.2% (-1.4% y/y) while paper product inventories gained 0.4% (0.4% y/y).

Orders to all manufacturers improved 1.1% (5.3% y/y) following a 1.5% February jump. The gain was led by a 2.9% rise (9.6% y/y) in durable goods orders, led higher by an 8.4% surge (54.7% y/y) in commercial aircraft. New orders excluding transportation gained 0.6% (3.2% y/y). Orders for nondurable goods (which equal shipments) declined 0.6% (+1.6% y/y). The decline reflected a 3.0% drop (-1.1% y/y) in shipments from oil refineries and a 0.1% slip in basic chemicals (-0.3% y/y). Shipments from textile mills jumped 1.1% (4.5% y/y) and apparel shipments increased 0.4% (6.2% y/y).

Unfilled orders improved 0.6% (7.6% y/y) and, excluding the transportation sector, they rose 0.7% (6.2% y/y). Backlogs of electrical equipment jumped 1.6% (8.9% y/y). Unfilled orders in the machinery sector rose 0.9% (9.1% y/y) and unfilled orders for transportation equipment improved 0.6% (8.5% y/y). Unfilled orders of furniture declined 1.1% (+0.2% y/) and fabricated metals backlogs were off 0.8% (-1.0% y/y).

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

Factory Sector- NAICS Classification Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
New Orders 1.1 1.5 -1.0 5.3 2.7 2.9 12.9
Shipments 0.3 0.9 -0.7 2.6 2.1 4.0 12.1
Inventories 0.1 0.7 0.2 2.6 2.3 2.4 10.2
Unfilled Orders 0.6 0.3 0.0 7.6 7.0 3.7 10.0
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