Friday, June 3, 2011

Manufacturing orders fell 1.2% in April, retail targets not being met: US

The economic news keeps getting bleaker for the Obama administration and Americans in general. The manufacturing sector, which had been one of the few bright spots in the wan recovery period over the last two years, turned negative in April. Orders for manufactured goods dropped 1.2%, shipments decreased 1.3%, and ominously, inventories once again increased:

New orders for manufactured goods in April, down two of the last three months, decreased $5.5 billion or 1.2 percent to $440.4 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 3.8 percent March increase. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 0.2 percent. Shipments, down following seven consecutive monthly increases, decreased $0.9 billion or 0.2 percent to $444.5 billion. This followed a 3.1 percent March increase. Unfilled orders, up twelve of the last thirteen months, increased $2.5 billion or 0.3 percent to $850.7 billion. This followed a 0.7 percent March increase. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.08, up from 5.96 in March.

Inventories, up eighteen of the last nineteen months, increased $7.7 billion or 1.3 percent to $587.8 billion. This followed a 1.4 percent March increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.32, up from 1.30 in March.

Demand continues to fall, while inventories continue to rise. That means that retailers have enough backlog to keep orders down for at least a while, probably through the summer — especially if food and fuel price increases continue to erode disposable income. Retailers have already begun to announce missed targets, and the Morgan Stanley retail index dropped slightly in trading this morning. (read more)