More formally, this is the Full Report on Manufacturers' Shipments, Inventories, and Orders. It's information collected and released by the US Census Bureau's Department of Commerce, and it tracks the rate of change in new orders for manufactured goods, manufacturer inventories, and manufactured goods shipped from the factory. Analysts and investors love this report, because increasing factory orders represent increasing economic growth.
In January, factory orders were up 3.1%. The Econoday-surveyed analysts aren't as optimistic about February, and are anticipating only a 0.5% increase in new orders. With that in mind, let us turn to the February 2011 report to find out how things worked out.
New orders for manufactured goods declined 0.1%, substantially missing expectations. Shipments increased for the sixth consecutive month, however, up 0.3% for February. Unfilled orders increased 0.5%, and inventories increased 0.8%.