New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.6% to $489 billion in February, according to a Department of Commerce report [link opens in PDF] released today. After the order figure fell a revised 1% for January, analysts had expected a bounce back, but their 1.2% estimate proved slightly too conservative.
The February gain reflected a rebound in orders for commercial aircraft and autos. Orders in both categories had fallen for two consecutive months before rebounding in February. Demand for commercial aircraft rose 13.4% while orders for motor vehicles and parts increase 3%.
New orders for durable goods increased 2.2% in February after two months of contraction. Investors use durable goods orders as a proxy for manufacturers' longer-term confidence in the economy. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods edged up an even 1%.
Excluding transportation equipment's 7% jump to $71.4 billion, growth doesn't look quite as good. Top-line numbers are more than halved, with new orders minus transportation equipment growing just 0.7% on the month.
Unfilled orders advanced 0.3% for the 12th increase in 13 months. Shipments turned their ship around, adding 0.8% after two months of declines. Inventories also increased 0.8% for the 10th increase in 11 months At $392 billion, that is the highest level of inventories since data were first recorded in 1992. The inventories-to-shipments ratio, a statistic used to measure the sustainable flow of goods, remained steady at 1.30.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.