New factory orders for manufactured goods increased 1.8 percent or $6.7 billion in March to $370.5 billion. This follows a 0.1 percent decrease in January. This is higher than the consensus estimate of a 1.5 percent increase and ends six consecutive month-to-month declines. Year to date, new orders for 2001 are 3.2 percent below the same period a year ago; new orders for the first quarter are 2.8 percent below the fourth quarter.
New orders for manufactured durable goods increased $6.9 billion or 3.5% to $206.3 billion, revised from the previously announced 3.0% increase. Transportation equipment had the largest increase, $10.4 billion or 24.8% to $52.5 billion. Shipbuilding, tanks and all component industries showed gains. Electronic and other electrical equipment, led by electronic components, decreased $2.2 billion or 5.5% to $37.3 billion. Industrial machinery and equipment declined $1.2 billion or 2.8% to $41.0 billion. Primary metals, down six consecutive months, fell $0.3 billion or 2.0% to $13.6 billon.
New orders for nondurable goods, down six of the last seven months, decreased $0.2 billion or 0.1% to $164.2 billion. A decline in petroleum, coal products and textile mill products more than offset an increase in food products.
Shipments of durable goods in March increased $1.6 billion or 0.8% to $202.0 billion, revised from the previously published 0.1% increase. This was the first increase since September 2000, ending a streak of five consecutive months of decline. Transportation equipment had the largest increase, $2.7 billion or 6.1% to $46.1 billion. All component industries, led by motor vehicles and parts, increased. This was the largest increase since May 2000. Instruments and related products increased $0.4 billion or 2.6% to $16.0 billion. Electronic and other electrical equipment, down five of the last six months, decreased $0.9 billion or 2.3% to $38.9 billion, due mostly to electronic components.
Shipments of nondurable goods, down six of the last seven months, decreased $0.1 billion or 0.1% to $164.5 billion. Petroleum and coal products had the largest decrease, $0.3 billion or 1.5% to $19.5 billion.
Unfilled orders for durable goods in March increased $4.3 billion or 0.8% to $573.3 billion, revised from the previously published 0.9% increase. Transportation equipment showed the greatest gains in this category, $6.5 billion or 2.5% to $268.7 billion, led by shipbuilding and tanks. Electronic and other electrical equipment, down four consecutive months, decreased $1.6 billion or 1.7% to $93.6 billion, due to electronic components. Primary metals, down 16 or the last 17 months, decreased $0.5 billion or 1.6% to $28.4 billion. This is the largest decrease since January 1999.
Inventories of durable goods decreased $2.9 billion or 0.9% in March to $308.0 billion. This is the largest decrease since December 1998. Electronic and other electrical equipment had the largest decrease, $1.2 billion or 2.4% to $48.0 billion. This was the sector's largest decline since March 1975. Transportation equipment declined $1.1 billion or 1.6% to $67.1 billion.
Inventories of nondurable goods increased slightly to $182.9 billion. Increases in food, and chemicals and allied products offset decreases in petroleum and coal products.
By stage of fabrication, March finished goods increased 0.7% in durables and increased 0.4% in nondurables. Work in process decreased 0.8% in durables and 0.5% in nondurables. Materials and supplies decreased 1.3% in durables and 0.3% in nondurables.
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