Factory Orders Unexpectedly Rose in August

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The U.S. Commerce Department has released its factory orders reading for the month of August. While this monthly reading has a one-month look back, versus the freshest economic data, the reality is that the factory orders looked better than expected.

Factory orders rose by 0.2% in August, compared with a drop of 0.2% that was expected. Still, the prior month’s reading was revised lower, to 1.4% from 1.9%. This also made for a two consecutive month gain. The actual gain in dollar terms was up $0.7 billion to $453.1 billion.

Shipments, which have been up in five of the past six months, increased by a total of $0.1 billion to $458.1 billion. This followed a 0.4% decrease during the month of July.

Unfilled orders have now been down for three consecutive months, falling by $1.6 billion to $1.1232 trillion. This followed a 0.2% drop in the month of July. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.81, up from 6.79 in July.

Inventories have now risen for two consecutive months, rising by about $1.0 billion to $622.0 billion. This followed a 0.2% increase in the month of July, and the inventories-to-shipments ratio was unchanged at 1.36.

Factory orders is not the biggest reading for a market-moving event, but it can still matter due to the size of the dollars involved. In extreme times of change, it can even alter GDP forecasts.

Wednesday’s market gains of eight points on the S&P 500 (2,158.50) and 98 points on the Dow Jones Industrial Average (11,266) might be more pointing to the $50 oil challenge being rekindled and due to the higher PMI/ISM non-manufacturing gains.