New orders for manufactured goods increased 3% to a seasonally adjusted $492 billion for February, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.
After a revised 1% dip in January, new orders have reached an all-time high since data were first collected in 1992. Market analysts had expected a 2.9% increase.
Excluding transportation, new factory orders look less optimistic. Similar to the latest durable goods report, transportation accounted for 2.7 percentage points of all new orders. New orders for the transportation sector jumped 21.8%, with nondefense aircraft and parts playing the biggest role there.
Shipments and unfilled orders continued a consecutive climb in February, both up 0.9% for the fifth gain in six months. Inventories also increased 0.2% to $620 billion for the highest level ever recorded. Even as transportation drove new orders up in February, its 31 consecutive months of inventory increase continued to push inventories higher.