One step forward after two steps back. New orders for manufactured goods rose 1.6% in February after drops the two previous months, the Commerce Department reported today, signaling a recovery from winter disruptions to production and shipping. Orders increased $7.5 billion to $488.8 billion for the month.
New orders for durable goods were up 2.2%, led by the transportation sector, which was up $4.7 billion or 7.0% to $71.4 billion in February. Nondurable goods were also up, by 1% or $2.7 billion to $259.7 billion.
But new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, considered a barometer of business confidence, fell 1.4% in February after a 0.8% increase in January.
“Taken together, January and February were bland, but we need more data to determine just how much of this blandness was weather-related,” information services firm IHS noted.
Shipments of manufactured durable goods increased $1.9 billion, or 0.8%, to $233.8 billion, less than the 0.9% in Commerce’s preliminary report. Transportation equipment led the increase, up $1.0 billion or 1.5% to $68.8 billion. Shipments of manufactured nondurable goods increased 1.0% to $259.7 billion after a 0.7% decrease in January. Petroleum and coal products, up three of the last four months, increased $1.4 billion or 2.0% to $74.0 billion.
Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods, up 12 of the last 13 months, increased $2.9 billion or 0.3% to $1.06 trillion. This was the highest level since 1992, the department stated, and followed a slight January increase. Transportation equipment led the increase, up $2.7 billion or 0.4% to $659.4 billion.
Inventories of manufactured goods, up 14 of the last 15 months, increased $4.1 billion or 0.7% to $642.1 billion. Inventories of durable goods were up 0.8% to $392.0 billion while inventories of nondurable goods increased 0.4% to $250.0 billion.