CHICAGO U.S. metal
producers shipments rose 10.5 percent in January to
$28.38 billion, more than making up for a 4.3-percent decline
in December, while new orders jumped 12.8 percent to $28.93
billion after falling 4.7 percent in the same
shipments were valued at $26.12 billion in January; the
6-percent gain reversing a 5.8-percent drop in December. New
orders rose 10.2 percent to $28.78 billion, the latest Census
Bureau data show.
Both metal producers and
fabricators kept their inventories in a tight range in January,
rising 0.5 and 1.4 percent, respectively, from December.
For all industries, new durable
goods orders fell 14.6 percent in January to $204.37 billion,
not seasonally adjusted. Transportation equipment, which fell
40 percent, drove the decrease, Census said. Excluding
transportation, new orders for durable goods inched up 0.3
"As widely expected, aircraft
and defense orders pulled down the total. A decline in aircraft
was a safe bet as this volatile category surged in December,"
according to Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at
consultancy IHS Global Insight Inc.
"The presumed expiration of
bonus depreciation at the start of the year may have dampened
shipments in January as some shipments were pulled forward into
the fourth quarter, but the impact was probably minor," he
said. "In all, demand for durable goods held up nicely in
January once aircraft and defense are taken into account. Our
forecast for first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth
holds at around 2 percent."
Meanwhile, the Commerce
Department revised its fourth-quarter GDP estimate from a
0.1-percent decline to a 0.1-percent gain.
Looking ahead, IHS estimates the
drag from the sequestration at 0.3 percent in the first
quarter, but if the sequestration continues through June "it
could take 1.8 percentage points off second-quarter