U.S. factory orders rebounded in February following disappointing January statistics, according to figures released Tuesday by the Commerce Department, although orders still rose by less than economists had anticipated.
Commerce Department figures put the February estimate of new orders for manufactured goods at $468.4 billion, a 1.3 percent increase from January levels.
While most economists had predicted a rebound following the 1.1 percent decline in January, many had hoped for a slightly more robust 1.5 percent increase.
The rebound by factory orders was partly due to an increase in orders in the volatile transportation sector, which saw a 3.9 percent increase, fueled in part by a 12.5 percent increase in orders for defense aircraft and parts.
Excluding the transportation sector, factory orders were still up 0.9 percent for February compared to a 0.5 percent decrease in January.
Durable goods orders, which suffered a disappointing 3.5 percent drop in January, rebounded strongly in February, posting a 2.1 percent increase.
Orders for non-durable goods increased by a more modest 0.4 percent in February following a 1.0 percent increase in the previous month.
Inventories of manufactured goods continued to increase in February, rising 0.4 percent to $616.8 billion, the highest level in raw dollar terms since the Commerce Department began tracking the figure in 1992.
Shipments also increased, but at a slower 0.1 percent rate, though the difference was not enough to change the inventories-to-shipments ratio from the January level of 1.33.
Total factory orders have been up three out of the last four months, according to Commerce Department figures, with non-defense orders up four of the last five months and non-transportation orders up five of the last six months.
by RTT Staff Writer
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