Inventories are now rising

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The Census Bureau came out this morning with a report on “Manufacturer’s Shipments, Inventories and Orders” for October. The report was bullish as it showed new orders for manufactured goods rising for the sixth time in seven months. But, more importantly, it also showed that manufacturers are adding inventory which means that production is now outstripping demand, adding to upside potential for GDP this quarter.

The report states:

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New orders for manufactured goods in October, up six of the last seven months, increased $2.1 billion or 0.6 percent to $360.5 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 1.6 percent September increase. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent.

Shipments, up four of the last five months, increased $3.1 billion or 0.8 percent to $368.0 billion. This followed a 1.3 percent September increase.

Unfilled orders, down thirteen consecutive months, decreased $2.9 billion or 0.4 percent to $730.8 billion. This was the longest streak of consecutive monthly decreases since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992. This followed a 0.4 percent September decrease. The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 5.82, up from 5.79 in September.

Inventories, up following thirteen consecutive monthly decreases, increased $1.8 billion or 0.4 percent to $493.0 billion. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.34, down from 1.35 in September.

While inventories have been pared less slowly in the past, they have now dropped to the point where producers are increasing production so much they are adding inventories.

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We should expect this to increase hours worked and income for existing workers first. Only then will temp staff and then permanent staff be taken on.  Nevertheless, this is another welcome sign of recovery.

Full Report on Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories and Orders, October 2009 (pdf) – U.S. Census Bureau

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