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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders and Shipments Fall
by Tom Moeller  February 4, 2019

Manufacturers' orders declined 0.6% (+4.1% y/y) during November following an unrevised 2.1% October fall. The Action Economics Forecast survey looked for a 0.4% rise.

Durable goods orders rebounded 0.7% m/m (5.3% y/y) after a 2.1% decline. Orders for defense and civilian aircraft recovered following sharp October declines. Excluding transportation altogether, new orders for durable goods fell 0.4% (+4.8% y/y). Strength in orders for metals was offset by a decline in machinery.

Orders for nondurable goods (which equal shipments) fell 1.9% (+2.9% y/y) after a 0.1% uptick. A 9.3% decline in shipments from petroleum refineries led the decline (+5.2% y/y). Basic chemical shipments rose 0.9% (3.9% y/y) and food product shipments gained 0.2% (0.3% y/y). Apparel shipments fell 1.2% (+6.9% y/y). Shipments of durable goods improved 0.7% (6.2% y/y). Computer & electronic product shipments rose 1.0% (5.6% y/y) but machinery shipments slipped 0.4% (+2.7% y/y).

Unfilled orders from the factory sector eased 0.1% (+4.6% y/y) after a 0.2% decline. Durable goods unfilled orders eased 0.1% (+4.6% y/y). Transportation sector order backlogs declined 0.3% (+4.4% y/y) but total unfilled orders less transportation rose 0.2% (4.9% y/y). Unfilled orders of machinery were little changed (3.0% y/y) while computer & electronic order backlogs rose 0.5% (3.7% y/y).

Inventories in the manufacturing sector slipped 0.1% (+4.2% y/y). Durable goods inventories rose 0.4% (4.9% y/y). Machinery inventories gained 0.4% (5.3% y/y) while inventories of computers & electronic products rose 0.3% (1.1% y/y). Electrical equipment & appliance inventories rose 0.9% (8.7% y/y) while transportation sector inventories gained 0.2% (3.4% y/y). Nondurable goods inventories declined 1.0% (+3.0% y/y) as petroleum refinery inventories fell 8.4% (+1.5% y/y). Basic chemical inventories rose 0.6% (5.0% y/y) and paper product inventories improved 0.1% (1.8% y/y).

The factory sector figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics Forecasts survey is in AS1REPNA.

Factory Sector (% chg) - NAICS Classification Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
New Orders -0.6 -2.1 0.2 4.1 5.7 -2.9 -8.2
Shipments -0.6 -0.1 0.7 4.5 5.0 -3.2 -6.2
Unfilled Orders -0.1 -0.2 0.7 4.6 2.0 -1.2 -2.7
Inventories -0.1 0.2 0.6 4.2 4.5 -0.7 -0.8
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