The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Thursday morning that factory orders rose by 1.6% ($7.8 billion) in March to $507.7 billion. Bloomberg’s Econoday consensus estimate called for a gain of 1.3%. The February increase of 1.6% was revised up by 0.4 percentage point. The March increase was the seventh in the past eight months.
Shipments rose 0.4% ($2.1 billion) to $502.8 billion. Unfilled orders rose by 0.8% ($9.2 billion) to $1.15 trillion. Shipments have increased in six of the past seven months.
Inventories that have been up in 16 of the past 17 months rose in March by $1.7 billion, or 0.3%, to $677.3 billion. Inventories increased by 0.4% in February. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.35, flat with the February ratio.
New orders for durable goods rose $6.5 billion (2.6%) to $255.2 billion, unchanged from the February report. Transportation equipment, up in four of the past five months, led the increase in new orders, rising $6.4 billion or 7.6% to $91.4 billion.
Shipments of durable goods rose for the 10th month of the past 11 by 0.4% ($900 million) to $250.4 billion. Transportation equipment, up four of the past five months, drove the increase, rising by $1.5 billion, or 1.8%, to $83.5 billion. Automobile shipments fell by 1.7% month over month on a seasonally adjusted basis and are down 2.5% year over year non-seasonally adjusted. Shipments of light trucks and utility vehicles rose 2.4% in March to $18.3 billion (seasonally adjusted) and shipments are up 11% year to date to $54.67 billion (not seasonally adjusted). Non-military aircraft and parts shipments to date in 2018 total $87.17 billion, up 5.4% year over year.
Farm machinery sales were down 1.5% month over month but are up more than 20% year over year. Construction machinery sales dropped 3.6% month over month but are up 15% year over year.
Turbines, generators and other electrical power transmission products posted a month-over-month rise in shipments of 1.8% and a year-over-year increase of 14.6%.