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U.S. May Factory Orders Meet Expectations

With a major lift from commercial aircraft, new orders for U.S. manufactured goods rose 2.9% in May to a seasonally adjusted $394.1 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on July 5. The percentage increase from April was in line with most economists' expectations.

New orders for manufactured durables -- generally big-ticket items such as airplanes and appliances designed to last at least three years -- increased 5.5% in May to $210.7 billion. It was their second consecutive monthly increase. New orders for nondurables increased one-tenth of a percentage point in May to $183.4 billion.

However, among makers of manufactured durables May's new orders reflected an unevenness that has characterized much of U.S. manufacturing's recovery from the 2001 recession. For example, while new orders for construction machinery rose 7%, on a seasonally adjusted basis, new orders for industrial machinery fell 14.6%. New orders for metalworking machinery and material handling equipment also fell in May. Household appliances saw new orders rise 2.7% in May, but new orders for electric lighting equipment fell 10.3%.

Manufacturers' shipments in May, reversing two months of increases, decreased by $122 million in May to $390.8 billion.

Manufacturers' inventories increased by $134 million to $484.6 billion.

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