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.

Source: Department of Commerce. 

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.

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