New orders surge during November
The Commerce Department reported a 2.5% rise in new orders for manufactured goods between October and November, after a negligible 0.1% increase the month before. Orders have now risen for six consecutive months. Although most economy-watchers expected some continued orders growth during the latest month, the magnitude of the increase caught just about everyone by surprise.
Trends in the NAPM orders index in particular have suggested that we would see some slowdown in this measure’s growth rate. Below the surface, the number fell more in line with expectations. Excluding the transportation industry sector, new orders for manufactured goods actually decreased 0.3% during November. Transportation equipment orders shot up 21%, with most of the gain coming in the aircraft group.
Shipments of manufactured goods didn’t perform as well as orders in November. Total shipments fell 0.3% to $333.1 billion. However, shipments for aircraft sparked up by 13.6%, a major factor in November’s 1.2% gain in overall transportation shipments. Excluding aircraft, transportation shipments fell by 2.5%. With inventories running lean, the modest 2.3% increase in unfilled orders should keep manufacturers busy in upcoming months.