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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders and Shipments Rose in November
by Sandy Batten  January 6, 2022

• Seventh consecutive gain in new orders and largest increase in six months.

• Shipments rose a more modest 0.7% m/m.

• Unfilled orders picked up while inventories slowed.

Total factory orders rose 1.6% m/m (15.5% y/y) in November on top of an upwardly revised 1.2% m/m gain in October (initially 1.0% m/m). This was the seventh consecutive monthly increase and the largest in six months. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a 1.5% m/m rise. Much of the November gain was due to a 6.5% m/m jump in transportation orders (led by a 34.0% m/m surge in nondefense aircraft orders) following declines in both September and October. Orders excluding transportation rose a more modest 0.8% m/m (15.1% y/y) in November, down from 1.5% in October.

Durable goods orders rebounded in November, rising 2.6% m/m (14.8% y/y) after an upwardly revised 0.1% m/m increase in October (originally -0.4% m/m). Again, the marked increase was due mostly to the jump in transportation orders. Orders for machinery, electrical equipment and furniture fell in November from October while orders for computers and electronic products posted a solid 4.0% m/m gain in November, its largest monthly increase since 2015.

Total shipments rose 0.7% m/m (13.0% y/y) in November, their eighth consecutive monthly gain, on top of a 2.0% increase in October. Excluding transportation shipments, the remainder of shipments increased 0.6% m/m (14.9% y/y) after a 1.7% m/m rise in October and a 1.2% m/m gain in September. A 2.2% m/m gain in shipments of nonmetallic mineral products, a 1.7% m/m increase in shipments of wood products and a 0.9% m/m rise in transportation shipments led the overall November increase.

Nondurable goods orders, which equal nondurable goods shipments, increased 0.7% m/m (16.3% y/y) in November after an outsized 2.3% m/m gain in October. A 1.6% m/m rise in shipments of plastics and rubber products and a 1.2% m/m increase in petroleum shipments led the overall increase.

The value of unfilled orders increased 0.7% m/m (6.5% y/y) in November, up from a 0.3% gain in October. Excluding transportation, unfilled orders rose 0.8% m/m (15.3% y/y) following a 0.7% m/m increase in October. The November increase was led by gains of 1.0% m/m in machinery, 1.4% m/m in computers and electronic equipment and 1.2% m/m in electrical equipment and appliances.

Inventories rose 0.7% m/m (9.0% y/y) in November, their smallest rise in three months, following a 0.9% m/m gain in October. Both durable goods and nondurable goods inventories posted 0.7% m/m increases in November.

The factory sector data are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics Forecast Survey is in the AS1REPNA database.

Factory Sector (% chg) - NAICS Classification Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
New Orders 1.6 1.2 0.5 15.5 -10.4 -0.2 5.7
Shipments 0.7 2.0 1.0 13.0 -6.7 -2.6 6.0
Unfilled Orders 0.7 0.3 0.7 6.5 -8.2 10.2 -1.6
Inventories 0.7 0.9 1.0 9.0 -0.5 5.3 2.8
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