CHICAGO U.S. metal producers shipments and new orders fell in December from the previous month, but the full-year totals were higher than in 2011.
December shipments were valued at $25.95 billion, down 4.3 percent from November, but full-year shipments jumped 12.5 percent to nearly $343.15 billion, the latest U.S. Census Bureau data show. New orders fell 4.7 percent to $25.74 billion in December, while the full-year total rose 9.5 percent to $336.91 billion.
Metal fabricators shipments totaled $24.8 billion in December, down 5.8 percent from $26.32 billion the previous month, but annual shipments of $329.31 billion were up 3.8 percent from $317.13 billion in 2011. New orders bucked the year-end trend, inching up 0.6 percent to $25.86 billion in December, and full-year orders of $333.75 billion increased 3.3 percent.
New orders for durable goods rose 4.6 percent to $230.74 billion in December on a seasonally adjusted basis, and shipments rose 1.3 percent to $230.57 billion.
Orders rose in December "because of a spike in the volatile aircraft category," said Patrick Newport, U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight Inc., Lexington, Mass.
"Outside of aircraft, the (new orders) numbers were mostly positive," he said, noting growth in all categories except fabricated metals and machinery.