New orders for manufactured goods increased 1.1% in March, according to a Department of Commerce report [link opens in PDF] released today. After orders improved a revised 1.5% for February, analysts had expected a slightly larger 1.4% rise.
While the overall number didn't live up to expectations, new orders for durable goods increased 2.9% for the second-straight month of expansion. Investors use durable goods orders as a proxy for manufacturers' longer-term confidence in the economy.
New orders for capital goods proved especially strong, increasing 3.5% excluding more volatile aircraft numbers.
March didn't prove to be as accommodating to manufactured nondurable goods, with new orders down 0.6%.
Unfilled orders increased 0.6% for the 13th expansion in 14 months, reaching its highest level since data were first collected in 1992. Shipments increased 1.2%, while inventories expanded 0.3%, also a record high .
Since both shipments and inventories increased by relatively similar absolute amounts, the inventories-to-shipments ratio (a statistic used to measure the sustainable flow of goods) remained steady at 1.30.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.