New factory orders for manufactured goods bumped up 1.8% to $484 billion for December, according to a Commerce Department report [link opens in PDF] released today. Although the latest data come as good news after November's revised 0.3% decline, they failed to meet analysts' expectations of a 2.4% rise.
Durable goods continued to push new orders higher, up 4.3% in December. Transportation equipment was responsible for about a third of all new orders for manufactured durable goods, and improved 11.7% for December. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods slumped 0.3% in the month, due in part to less demand for petroleum and coal products.
Although good-but-not-great news is a common theme throughout the report, unfilled orders jumped 0.8%, a growth rate not seen since February. Shipments increased 1.1% in December, while inventories fell $100 million to $374.5 billion, down following 14 consecutive monthly increases. The inventories-to-shipments ratio, a statistic used to measure the sustainable flow of goods, remained at 1.27 for December.