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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Sector Orders Ease
by Tom Moeller  June 2, 2015

New orders in the manufacturing sector edged 0.4% lower during April (-6.4% y/y) following a 2.2% March increase, revised from 2.1%. Durable goods orders declined 1.0% (-2.8% y/y) following a 5.1% rise. The drop compared to a 0.5% easing in the advance report. Orders for computers & electronic products declined 4.0% (+3.0% y/y) and transportation orders fell 2.4% (-5.1% y/y). Offsetting these declines was a 0.9% rise (-7.3% y/y) in machinery orders and a 1.0% gain (-0.5% y/y) in fabricated metals. Nondurable goods orders (which equal shipments) improved 0.2% (-9.6% y/y) after a 0.4% decline. Textile products orders increased 2.2% (0.5% y/y), paper product orders gained 0.8% (3.4% y/y) and basic chemical orders rose 0.5% (-4.1% y/y). To the downside, petroleum refinery orders fell 0.2% (-31.6% y/y) and food product orders were off 0.5% (-2.5% y/y).

Shipments of durable goods slipped 0.2% (+3.2% y/y) after a 1.5% rise. Transportation sector shipments eased 0.3% (+10.0% y/y) and electrical equipment shipments slipped 0.1% (+1.7% y/y). Offsetting these declines was a 0.4% rise (-1.0% y/y) in machinery shipments and a 0.1% gain (+2.2% y/y) in shipments of computers & electronic products.

Unfilled orders eased 0.1% (+7.0% y/y) following a 0.1% gain. Machinery backlogs were off 1.1% (-1.7% y/y) and fabricated metals unfilled orders fell 0.5% (+12.5% y/y). These declines were offset by a 0.6% rise (8.9% y/y) in electrical equipment and no change in transportation equipment backlogs (9.0% y/y).

Inventories in the factory sector inched 0.1% higher (0.1% y/y) extending little change during the prior two months. Durable goods inventories rose 0.2% (5.0% y/y) as electrical equipment inventories gained 1.0% (6.6% y/y). Transportation equipment inventories rose 0.4% (7.6% y/y) while electrical equipment inventories gained 0.3% (2.3% y/y). Nondurable goods inventories slipped 0.1% (-7.0% y/y) as a 2.3% rise (16.8% y/y) in apparel inventories was offset by a 0.4% decline (-3.3% y/y) in basic chemicals. Textile mill inventories also were off 1.2% (-1.6% y/y) and textile products inventories declined 0.4% (-4.1% y/y).

The factory sector figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectations figure from the Action Economics Forecast Survey is available in AS1REPNA.

Factory Sector- NAICS Classification (%) Apr Mar Feb Y/Y 2014 2013 2012
New Orders -0.4 2.2 -1.0 -6.4 3.4 2.2 4.4
Shipments -0.0 0.5 0.1 -3.6 2.5 2.1 4.4
Unfilled Orders -0.1 0.1 -0.6 7.0 11.4 6.4 7.5
Inventories 0.1 -0.1 0.1 0.1 2.4 1.9 3.8
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