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New orders for manufactured goods rise in March for first time in nearly a year

New orders for manufactured goods rose in March following seven consecutive monthly decreases, said the U.S. Department of Commerce. Manufactured goods in March increased $9.6 billion, or 2.1%, to $476.5 billion, following a 0.1% February decrease. New orders for manufactured durable goods (those items lasting longer than three years), up two of the last three months, increased $10.2 billion, or 4.4%, to $241.2 billion, up from the previously published 4.0% increase. This followed a 1.4% February decrease.

Transportation equipment, also up two of the last three months, led the increase, at $9.5 billion, or 13.5%, to $80.4 billion. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods decreased $0.6 billion, or 0.3%, to $235.3 billion.

Shipments, up for two consecutive months, increased $2.3 billion, or 0.5%, to $482.2 billion. This followed a 0.4% February increase. Shipments of manufactured durable goods in March, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, increased $2.9 billion, or 1.2%, to $246.9 billion, up from the previously published 1.1% increase. This followed a 0.2% February decrease. Transportation equipment, up three of the last four months, drove this increase: $3.5 billion, or 4.6%, to $78.3 billion.

Shipments of manufactured nondurable goods, down eight of the last nine months, decreased $0.6 billion, or 0.3%, to $235.2 billion. This followed a 1.1% February increase. Petroleum and coal products, also down eight of the last nine months, drove the decrease: $0.9 billion, or 1.8%, to $50.9 billion.

Unfilled orders (order backlog) for manufactured durable goods in March, up following three consecutive monthly decreases, increased $1.0 billion, or 0.1%, to $1.2 trillion, up $0.8 billion from the previously published increase. This followed a 0.5% February decrease. Transportation equipment order backlog, also up following three consecutive monthly decreases, drove the increase: $2.1 billion, or 0.3%, to $734.3 billion.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in March, up 23 of the last 24 months, increased $0.3 billion, or 0.1%, to $413.1 billion, virtually unchanged from the previously published increase. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.2% February increase.

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