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Metal shipments, orders rebound in October

Keywords: Tags  Metal producers, fabricators, new orders, shipments, inventories, durable goods, IHS Global Insight, Paul Edelstein corinna petry

CHICAGO — U.S. metal producers’ shipments rose 1.8 percent in October following a 5.7-percent drop in September, while new orders grew 7.5 percent, more than reversing a 5.4-percent decline the previous month.

The value of primary metal producers’ shipments totaled nearly $28.35 billion last month, while new orders were valued at more than $28.57 billion, the latest Census Bureau data show.

Metal fabricators’ shipments in October were valued at $28.87 billion, a 3.3-percent improvement from the previous month but not quite a recovery from a 4.6-percent decline in September. New orders totaled $28.1 billion, rebounding 2.7 percent from a 4.5-percent dip in September.

Year-over-year comparisons remain robust. Primary metal producers’ shipments and new orders grew 14.6 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively, compared with October last year, while fabricated metal shipments and orders improved 4.7 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

Manufactured durable goods shipments slipped 0.6 percent in October to a seasonally adjusted $222.21 billion, according to the Census Bureau, while new orders were flat at $216.95 billion. "The weakness was mostly confined to motor vehicles (down 1.6 percent) and civilian and defense aircraft (down 5.8 and 4.3 percent)," Paul Edelstein, economist at IHS Global Insight Inc., Lexington, Mass., said. "Excluding transportation, new orders actually increased 1.5 percent."

Orders for core capital equipment grew by the strongest rate since May, but "downgraded earnings projections due in part to weaker overseas growth and recession in Europe offer businesses little incentive to expand capacity," Edelstein said. "As long as the fiscal cliff does not pull us back into recession, business capital investment should recover next year."

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