The Census Bureau reported that new orders for manufactured goods fell 0.4 percent, with both durables and nondurables declining for the month, down 0.5 percent and 0.3 percent. All percentages are expressed in annual terms. This was the second consecutive month with a decrease, and it was led by steep drop in transportation, down 5.1 percent. If transportation numbers were excluded, new orders would have increased by 0.2 percent.
Note that today’s numbers reflect more complete information, as the durable goods orders were initially pegged at being down 0.7 percent. As I noted at the time, airplane orders can be sporadic, and recent transactions should improve these figures when the data for November are released on December 23.
There were some areas of strength reflected in new order sales for October. These include primary metals (up 3 percent), machinery (up 2.9 percent) and computers and electronics (up 0.8 percent). Within the transportation sector, motor vehicle orders rose 2.3 percent, reversing declines in the previous two months.
Meanwhile, shipments of manufactured goods increased 0.6 percent in October, up for the fifth consecutive month. Durable goods shipments increased 1.6 percent, with nondurables falling 0.3 percent. Major industries with the fastest growth in shipments for the month included transportation (up 5 percent, led by strong growth in autos and nondefense aircraft), primary metals (up 3.2 percent) and computers and electronics (up 1.8 percent).
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.