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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders and Shipments Advance in January
by Carol Stone, CBE  March 3, 2022

• New orders for manufactured goods gained in January; December’s decline is revised to an increase.

• Durable and nondurable goods shipments have notable increases.

• Unfilled orders and inventories also grow.

Manufacturers’ new orders rose 1.4% in January (+13.6% y/y) following a 0.7% increase in December, which was revised from a decline of 0.4% reported a month ago. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a 1.4%% m/m increase in January. In the initial December report, we noted that the decline reported then largely reflected a drop in transportation orders, such that orders excluding transportation had risen a modest 0.1% m/m. Now, transportation orders in December are shown to have increased 1.7% and in January 3.4%. Orders excluding transportation are now seen to be up 0.5% in December and 1.0% in January.

Durable goods orders were up 1.6% in January (14.2% y/y) following a 1.2% increase in December, revised from a 0.7% drop initially reported. In addition to the surge in transportation orders in January, machinery orders were up 2.6% and fabricated metals up 0.2%. Orders for computers and electronic equipment rose marginally, while primary metals orders decreased marginally. Electrical equipment orders fell 0.6% in January and those for furniture were down 4.0%.

New orders for nondurable goods rose 1.2% m/m (13.0% y/y) in January, following a 0.1% m/m rise in December.

Total shipments rose 1.2% m/m (10.8% y/y) in January after 0.7% in December. Excluding transportation, shipments increased 1.3% m/m (12.4% y/y), following a 0.6% m/m gain in December. Shipments of durable goods rose 1.1% m/m (8.7% y/y) in January, following a 1.3% m/m rise in December. Transportation equipment slowed to just a 0.3% (2.0% y/y) increase in January while machinery was the strongest sector, with its shipments up 2.7% in January (14.3% y/y).

Nondurable goods shipments rose 1.2% in January (13.0% y/y) and December’s were revised from the previously reported 0.2% decline to a 0.1% m/m increase. Shipments of petroleum and coal products advanced 2.8% (37.9%), reversing a 1.5% decrease in December.

Unfilled orders increased 0.9% m/m (8.9% y/y) in January, after an 0.8% m/m rise in December. They have risen steadily beginning in February 2021, averaging 0.7% per month. Excluding transportation, unfilled orders rose 0.5% m/m (15.0% y/y) in January, following an 0.8% m/m rise in December. As in December, gains were again widespread, with primary metals the strongest at a 1.3% monthly advance (17.9% y/y).

Inventories of manufactured goods rose 0.7% in January (9.8% y/y); in December, they had grown 0.4%. Durable goods inventories rose 0.4% (10.3% y/y) in January while nondurable goods inventories were up 1.2% (9.0% y/y).

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 Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2021 2020 2019
New Orders 1.4 0.7 1.8 13.6 16.8 -10.4 -0.2
Shipments 1.2 0.7 0.7 10.8 12.7 -6.7 -2.6
Unfilled Orders 0.9 0.8 0.8 8.9 7.7 -8.2 10.2
Inventories 0.7 0.4 0.8 9.8 9.1 -0.5 5.3
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