Factory orders in U.S. increased less than forecast in April

ISM Index

Today’s Commerce Department data follow a report earlier this week that showed manufacturing slumped in May. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index fell to 49 last month, the lowest since June 2009, when the last recession ended. Fifty is the dividing line between growth and contraction.

The gain in bookings for durable goods, which make up slightly more than half of total factory demand, reflected increases in demand for airplanes, cars and machinery such as construction equipment, today’s report showed. The increase was larger than the 3.3% increase the Commerce Department reported last week.

Aircraft orders climbed 16.9% in April after slumping 43.3% the prior month, today’s figures showed. Chicago-based Boeing Co. said it had received orders for 51 aircraft in April, up from 39 in March.

In today’s report, factory orders excluding transportation equipment decreased 0.1% in April after falling 2.8% in March.

Petroleum Bookings

The drop in orders for non-durables reflected a 4.6% slump in petroleum and coal products, today’s report showed. Because bookings aren’t adjusted for inflation they can reflect changes in prices rather than shifts in demand.

Bookings for capital goods excluding aircraft and military equipment, an indicator of future business investment, rose 1.2% in April after a 1.1% gain in March. The April advance was the same as reported last week, while March was revised up from the 0.9% increase previously reported.

Shipments of those goods, a measure used in calculating gross domestic product, dropped 1.3% after a 0.6% increase the previous month. That compares with the 1.5% drop and 0.5% gain for April and March reported in last week’s durable goods report.

Today’s figures on factory orders showed inventories climbed 0.2% in April after being unchanged the prior month.

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