CHICAGO Primary and
fabricated metals shipments and new orders all improved
strongly in March compared with the previous month, while
inventories were mixed.
Primary metals shipments were
valued at $29.9 billion, not seasonally adjusted, up 7.2
percent from February, while fabricated metal companies shipped
nearly $28.3 billion worth of product last month, a 9.6-percent
increase, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Primary metals producers
new orders of more than $29.9 billion improved 2.6 percent,
while those for fabricators jumped 9.4 percent to slightly more
than $31 billion.
Inventories registered mixed
results, falling 3 percent for producers but inching up 0.2
percent for fabricators.
On a seasonally adjusted basis,
new orders for all durable goods fell 5.7 percent last month.
Civilian aircraft and defense orders accounted for 85 percent
of the decline, with the balance due to machinery and metals,
according to Paul Edelstein, director of financial economics at
Lexington, Mass.-based consultancy IHS Global Insight Inc. The
decline in new durable goods orders "was sharper than expected,
but still largely confined to the volatile civilian aircraft
and defense categories."
The federal budget sequestration
wasnt responsible for the decline in defense orders, as
it was too recent to be reflected in the data, he said.
However, its effects should appear slowly in the numbers,
mostly impacting the medium-term trend and not month-to-month
"Motor vehicle orders took a pause after a strong month in
February. The numbers largely confirm what we already know:
that the economy hit a soft patch in March that will likely
persist for a couple of quarters," Edelstein said.