Orders for manufactured goods fell in February, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau, but shipments were up slightly.
New orders for manufactured durable goods in February fell $1.9 billion or 0.9 percent to $200 billion. This decrease, down four of the last five months, followed a 3.6 percent January increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.6 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.4 percent. Machinery, down two consecutive months, had the largest decrease, $1.2 billion or 4.2 percent to $26.6 billion.
Shipments of manufactured durable goods in February, up five of the last six months, increased $0.7 billion or 0.3 percent to $203.2 billion. This followed a 0.2 percent January increase. Machinery, up three of the last four months, had the largest increase, $0.7 billion or 2.6 percent to $26.1 billion.
Inventories of manufactured durable goods in February, up 14 consecutive months, increased $2.9 billion or 0.9 percent to $328.3 billion. This followed a 0.9 percent January increase. Transportation equipment, also up 14 consecutive months, had the largest increase, $0.8 billion or 0.9 percent to $87.8 billion.
Economists cautioned that the numbers don’t necessarily mean bad news for the economy. One analyst told Reuters that there are very strong manufacturing numbers coming from other reports. In addition, durable goods orders tend to be very volatile. And job numbers are looking up; in February, employers hired 192,000 new workers, the most in nine months.
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