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Economy in Brief

U.S. Factory Orders & Shipments Surge
by Tom Moeller  May 3, 2022

• Orders increase broadly.

• Shipments strengthen for third straight month.

• Unfilled orders & inventories continue to rise.

Manufacturers' new orders rose 2.2% (14.2% y/y) during March following a 0.1% February increase, revised from a 0.5% decline reported initially. A 1.3% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Orders excluding transportation increased 2.5% (14.3% y/y) after improving 1.0% in February.

Durable goods orders rose 1.1% in March (10.5% y/y), revised from 0.8% in the advance report. The gain followed a 1.7% February decline. Electrical equipment & appliance orders surged 4.4% (13.6% y/y) after strengthening 1.3% in February. Machinery orders increased 1.3% (10.5% y/y) after falling 2.7% in February. Orders for computers and electronic equipment rebounded 2.6% (6.5% y/y) after falling 1.1% in February while primary metals orders rose 2.2% (17.2% y/y) after a 0.1% rise.

New orders for nondurable goods, which equal shipments, rose 3.2% (18.0% y/y) in March following a 2.1% February increase. Shipments from petroleum refineries surged 12.8% (66.5% y/y) with higher prices. Apparel shipments gained 1.5% (4.8% y/y), about as they did in February. Shipments of basic chemicals rose 0.8% (10.6% y/y) after easing 0.1% in February.

Total shipments increased 2.3% (14.5% y/y) in March after a 1.1% rise. Shipments excluding transportation rose 2.3% (15.4% y/y) after improving roughly 1.5% in each of the prior two months. Transportation equipment gained 2.6% (9.1% y/y) after they eased 0.2% in February. Machinery shipments increased 1.3% last month (13.8% y/y) after falling 1.6%. Shipments of computers & electronic products eased 0.3% (+4.8% y/y) after sharp increases in each of the prior three months.

Unfilled orders increased 0.4% in March (8.3% y/y) after a 0.5% rise in February. Excluding transportation, unfilled orders gained 0.4% (12.1% y/y) following a 0.2% rise in February. Transportation backlogs increased 0.4% (6.5% y/y) after rising 0.6%. Unfilled orders of machinery rose 0.4% (15.2% y/y), the same as in February.

Inventories of manufactured goods jumped 1.3% in March (10.6% y/y) after rising 0.9% in February. Transportation equipment inventories strengthened 1.0% (5.0% y/y) while excluding transportation, inventories gained 1.4% (12.0% y/y) after a 1.1% February rise.

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

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