metal shipments rose slightly in May even as new orders
declined compared with April, according to U.S. Census Bureau
data. Metal fabricators also recorded a healthy improvement in
shipments, but orders slipped.
inventories by 0.8 percent in the same comparison, while
fabricators inventories were basically unchanged,
according to non-seasonally adjusted data.
producers new orders of $26.17 billion last month, down
0.7 percent from April, ran counter to a year-to-date
improvement of 0.6 percent to nearly $130.3 billion.
Fabricators new orders were down 0.2 percent to $30.54
billion, but the five-month total of $154.15 billion was 3.2
percent ahead of a year earlier.
New orders for all
manufactured durable goods in May increased 3.6 percent to
$231.03 billion, seasonally adjusted. Transportation equipment
ordersconsisting primarily of nondefense aircraft and
partsled the overall improvement with a 10.2-percent
aircraft nor defense goods "matter much for the near-term
outlook as backlogs are very long, so removing them paints a
far clearer picture of the prognosis," said Michael Montgomery,
U.S. economist for Lexington, Mass.-based consultancy IHS
Global Insight Inc.
"Excluding these wild
segments yields a 0.6-percent May gain that piles on top of a
1.7-percent April performance to show some strength, but not
enough to suggest robust gains in actual shipments that power
the arithmetic of GDP (gross domestic product)," he said. "That
leaves the durable goods segment growing anemically and the
capital goods portion in lackluster shape. Neither domestic
equipment nor capital goods exports are going to thrive in this
environment, but they are not in decline."
Plodding GDP likely
will prevail and big-ticket goods producers "will have to fight
for every inch of ground," Montgomery said.