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Economic Watch: Factory Orders Increases Most in 8 Months

May 4, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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New orders and shipments of factory made goods turned around in March, according to a new Commerce Department Report released Monday.

The 2.1% increase in new orders for manufactured goods from the month before is the largest increase in eight months, followed a revised 0.1% February drop that was the seventh monthly decline in a row.

Shipments of factory made goods increased for the second consecutive month in March, increasing 0.5% following a February gain of 0.4%.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in March increased 4.4%, up more than the first reported 4% increase, and following a 1.4% drop in February. It was led by transportation equipment, jumping 13.5% in March.

Shipments of manufactured durable goods increased 1.2% compared to an advance report that showed a 1.1% gain for March. It also was driven by the transportation sector,  increasing 4.6% from the month before.

Inventories of manufactured goods in March increased 0.1%, following nearly two straight years of uninterrupted gains, and is at the highest level on record, which goes back to 1992.

An indictor of business investment, spending on non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, showed orders increased 0.1% following a 0.5% drop in February, while shipments in this sector fell 0.4, the same as an earlier advance report.

While these latest numbers are better than what was seen earlier in the year and are a sign the U.S. economy is gaining a little steam after a disappointing first quarter, the general consensus is that growth will be slower in the second quarter than it was a year earlier.

Part of the reason is due to the rise of the dollar against foreign currencies, making U.S. produced goods more expensive for the nation’s biggest trading partners.

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