New orders for manufactured goods in February, up following six consecutive monthly decreases, increased $6.1 billion or 1.8 percent to $352.2 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 3.5 percent January decrease. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 1.6 percent. Shipments, down seven consecutive months, decreased $0.4 billion or 0.1 percent to $365.9 billion. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 2.6 percent January decrease. Unfilled orders, down five consecutive months, decreased $10.7 billion or 1.4 percent to $773.2 billion. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since September 2002-January 2003. This followed a 2.0 percent January decrease. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 5.98, down from 6.07 in January. Inventories, down six consecutive months, decreased $6.2 billion or 1.2 percent to $529.7 billion. This also was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since March 2003-January 2004 and followed a 1.1 percent January decrease. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.45, down from 1.46 in January.
Why is everybody thrilled by this number? The primary trend of all these data points is down:
New orders were down the last 6 months before the latest increase
Shipments were down 7 consecutive months
Unfilled orders were down 5 consecutive months
In other words -- the primary trend is lower. The latest data points are counter-trend.