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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Sector Orders Increase With Petroleum
by Tom Moeller  April 2, 2015

New orders in the manufacturing sector improved 0.2% during February following a 0.7% January decline, revised from -0.2%. A 0.5% decline was expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Durable goods orders declined 1.4% (+0.5% y/y), the same as in the advance report. Machinery orders dropped 1.4% (-5.5% y/y) and transportation orders were off 3.3% (-2.7% y/y). Electrical equipment orders gained 3.0% (3.0% y/y). Orders for nondurable goods (which equal shipments) increased 1.8% (-8.5% y/y) following sharp declines in the prior five months. The gain was powered by an 11.3% rise (-30.1% y/y) in petroleum orders. Apparel orders were unchanged (13.4% y/y) and basic chemical orders slipped 0.2% (-3.3% y/y). Food product orders were off 0.2% as well (+1.4% y/y). Durable goods shipments slipped 0.2% (+3.9% y/y) led by a 0.3% decline (+3.1% y/y) in electrical machinery. Computers & electronics shipments gained 0.6% (0.1% y/y) and machinery shipments rose 0.6% (0.6% y/y).

Unfilled orders declined 0.5% (+8.8% y/y) while backlogs excluding the transportation sector slipped 0.3% (+5.3% y/y). Machinery backlogs declined 1.0% (+3.2% y/y). Order backlogs of computers & electronic products gained 0.4% (7.8% y/y) while unfilled orders of furniture improved 0.9% (14.3% y/y).

Inventories ticked 0.1% higher (1.3% y/y) but excluding the transportation sector they slipped 0.1% (-0.3% y/y). Nondurable goods inventories edged down 0.1% (-4.9% y/y). That followed a 1.7% January fall which reflected a 10.1% drop in petroleum inventories. Basic chemical inventories fell 0.5% (-1.7% y/y) but apparel inventories gained 1.9% (27.1% y/y). Durable goods inventories rose 0.3% (5.3% y/y). Computers & electronic products inventories increased 0.7% (4.1% y/y) and electrical equipment gained 0.1% (-0.1% y/y).

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

Factory Sector- NAICS Classification (%) Feb Jan Dec Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
New Orders 0.2 -0.7 -3.5 -4.3 2.8 2.7 2.9
Shipments 0.7 -2.3 -0.9 -2.6 2.3 2.0 4.0
Inventories 0.1 -0.4 -0.4 1.3 2.5 2.3 2.4
Unfilled Orders -0.5 -0.3 -0.9 8.8 9.9 7.0 3.7
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