Factory Orders Rise, New Home Sales Fall In January

By John S. McClenahen For the second consecutive month, new orders for U.S. manufactured goods rose in January. Orders increased $5.2 billion -- or 1.6% -- from their December 2001 level to $325.8 billion, reports the U.S. Commerce Department's Bureau of the Census. The percentage increase beat the consensus forecast by six-tenths of a percentage point. Paced by autos and semiconductors, new orders for durable goods increased $3.5 billion -- some 2% -- to $178 billion in January. Food products led a $1.7 billion increase -- or 1.1% -- to $147.8 billion in manufactured nondurable goods. The 1.6% January 2002 increase in new orders, following a more modest 0.7% increase in December 2001, is the third recent statistic suggesting a broad-based manufacturing recovery may be in the works, notes David Huether, chief economist at the National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, new home sales in January didn't fare as well as manufactured goods. Sales of new one-family houses fell in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 823,000, according to data jointly released by the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development. The January rate was 15% below the revised December 2001 rate of 966,000.

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