Orders to U.S. factories unchanged as non-durables decrease

Business Investment

Shipments of those goods, used in calculating gross domestic product, rose 2 percent, the biggest gain in almost a year. The reading was up from the previously projected 1.8 percent advance the Commerce Department previously estimated.

Factory inventories were little changed in November for a second month, today’s report showed. Shipments climbed 0.4 percent, pushing the inventory-to-sales ratio down to 1.27 months from 1.28 months in October.

The automobile industry remains a source of strength for the U.S., sustaining a boost from sales in the wake of superstorm Sandy as consumers began replacing damaged or destroyed vehicles. Light vehicle sold at a 15.3 million annual rate in December, capping a third-straight annual gain of at least 10 percent which is the first such industry streak since 1973.

“It sure feels a lot better to be selling cars today than a few years ago,” Geoffrey Pohanka, president of the Pohanka Automotive Group, said in a telephone interview. “The age of the fleet and the attractiveness of a lot of cars that are being designed now are going to help sustain sales going forward.”

Auto Sales

That confidence in continued demand has his Washington, D.C.-area dealer group expanding only a few years after retrenchment. Pohanka closed three Saturn stores and a Chrysler- Dodge outlet as part of the 2009 restructurings of the predecessors to General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. In 2013, he plans to build a second Honda store in as many years and also will add a new Volkswagen dealership.

Another report this week signaled manufacturing sustained gains at the end of 2012. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory gauge rose to 50.7 last month from November’s 49.5, which was the weakest since July 2009. Fifty marks the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

Bloomberg News

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