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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders Decline; Shipments Stabilized
by Tom Moeller  June 04, 2018

Manufacturers' orders declined 0.8% (7.4% y/y) during April following little-changed estimates of strong growth during the prior two months. Manufacturing shipments held steady (7.2% y/y) after an upwardly 0.7% March gain.

Durable goods orders declined 1.6% (+7.9% y/y) during April, revised from -1.7% in last month's advance report, after a 2.7% rise. Orders for transportation equipment fell 6.0% (+7.8% y/y) due to a 28.9% decline in volatile civilian aircraft bookings. Total factory orders excluding transportation improved 0.4% (7.4% y/y). Machinery orders eased 0.7% (+2.6% y/y), the third decline in four months. Orders for computers & electronic products rose 1.1% (8.1% y/y) following a 1.5% jump.

Shipments of durable goods were unchanged (7.2% y/y) in April after a 0.7% increase. Shipments of transportation products fell 2.0% (+5.6% y/y) reflecting a 27.1% fall (-13.5% y/y) in civilian aircraft & parts. Machinery shipments improved 0.3% (7.4% y/y) after a 1.4% decline. Computer & electronic product shipments rose 1.2% (6.5% y/y). Electrical equipment shipments increased 1.8% (7.0% y/y).

Nondurable goods shipments, which equal nondurable goods orders because nondurables are shipped in the same period they are ordered, ticked 0.1% higher (7.0% y/y) after a 0.6% rise. Petroleum shipments increased 0.6% (26.8% y/y). Food products improved 0.5% (2.8% y/y). Basic chemical shipments eased 0.4% (+3.5% y/y) and paper product shipments fell 0.3% (+6.5% y/y).

Unfilled orders of durable goods rose 0.5% (3.7% y/y) after a 0.8% increase. Transportation equipment backlogs gained 0.5% (3.2% y/y). Excluding the transportation sector, unfilled orders rose 0.3% (4.7% y/y). Machinery backlogs slipped 0.5% (+3.4% y/y), the second consecutive monthly decline. Unfilled orders of computer & electronic products increased 0.1% (2.5% y/y) and electrical equipment & appliance backlogs rose 0.5% (-0.2% y/y), the same as in March.

Inventories of manufactured products gained 0.3% (5.0% y/y) and have been rising since late 2016. Durable goods inventories increased 0.3% (5.0% y/y). Transportation gained 0.3% (3.2% y/y). Inventories outside of transportation also grew 0.3% (5.4% y/y) for the third straight month. Machinery sector inventories rose 0.2% (5.2% y/y). Computer & electronic product inventories gained 0.2% (4.0% y/y). Nondurable goods inventories increased 0.3% (5.0% y/y). Basic chemical inventories rose 0.5% (2.9% y/y). Food product inventories eased 0.1% (+1.2% y/y). Petroleum refinery inventories jumped 0.9% (23.5% y/y).

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

Factory Sector (% chg) - NAICS Classification Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
New Orders -0.8 1.7 2.0 7.4 5.7 -2.9 -8.2
Shipments 0.0 0.7 0.2 7.2 5.0 -3.2 -6.2
Unfilled Orders 0.5 0.8 0.4 3.7 2.0 -1.2 -2.7
Inventories 0.3 0.2 0.3 5.0 4.5 -0.7 -0.8
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