The Census Bureau today released new data on March manufacturing shipments, inventories, and orders.  Much like many of the other reports lately, the news was positive for manufacturers.  New orders for manufactured goods rose 3 percent in March to $463.9 billion. 

Breaking down the gain, durable goods industries experienced a 2.9 percent increase in new orders, led by transportation equipment (up 6.2 percent), furniture and related products (up 4.8 percent), machinery (up 4.4 percent), and primary metals (up 4.2 percent).  New orders for computers rose substantially in March, up 11.8 percent, following two months of declines.

New shipments from manufacturers increased 2.7 percent in March – the seventh consecutive quarter of growth.   Nondurable goods outpaced durables for the month, rising 3.1 percent to 2.1 percent.  Among the fastest growers in the nondurable sector were beverage and tobacco products (up 4 percent) and petroleum and coal products (up 8.2 percent).

Inventories have been up 14 of the past 15 months, as they rose 1.1 percent in March and capital goods inventories increased 2 percent. Today’s report is another sign that manufacturers are continuing to drive the recovery, however some uncertainty continues to loom over the economy when it comes to several regulatory and policy issues. We will have a better indication of the state of recovery on Friday when the employment report is released.