New orders for manufactured durable goods in February increased $0.9 billion or 0.5% to $178.1 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced on March 24. This was the third consecutive monthly increase and followed a 3.9% January increase.
Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.9%. Excluding defense, new orders increased 1.6%.
Machinery, up three of the last four months, had the largest increase, $1.1 billion or 4.7% to $23.3 billion.
Inventories of manufactured durable goods in February, up two consecutive months, increased $1.0 billion or 0.3% to $303.9 billion. This followed a 0.1% January increase.
Primary metals, up four consecutive months, had the largest increase, $0.4 billion or 1.6% to $26.5 billion.
"In spite of severe weather and the supply chain implications of Toyota's difficulties, new orders for long-lasting goods registered solid gains on a monthly and year-over-year basis in February," said Cliff Waldman, Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI.
" Broadly distributed industrial gains, with machinery as well as primary and fabricated metal products demand all registering modestly strong advances, suggests that the manufacturing output recovery, which began in the summer of 2009 and whose strength has been propelled by a sharp inventory swing as well as fiscal stimulus measures, remains sustainable, at least over the short term.
"Nonetheless, questions exist about the durability of the broad economic recovery with housing and labor market data remaining especially troubling," he added. "And while U.S. factory sector prospects have certainly received a boost by a recovery from the deep export slump, the lopsided nature of the global recovery, with the output strength disproportionately coming from Asia, suggests that the external environment bears watching beyond the short-term. Business decision makers, still uncertain about the long-term outlook for economic growth, are exercising caution with regards to capital spending as evidenced by a moderate 1% increase in new orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, following a nearly 4% drop in February."