Factory Orders Flat at $403.6B in August; ISM Services Index Drop 5%

New orders for manufactured goods in August, down two consecutive months, decreased slightly to $403.6 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported today. This followed a 1.0% July decrease. 

Shipments, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, increased $4.5 billion or 1.1% to $407.8 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first stated on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.1% July decrease.

Inventories, up ten of the last eleven months, increased $1.8 billion or 0.4% to $475.5  billion. This followed a 0.8% July increase. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.17, unchanged from July.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in August, down for the second consecutive month, decreased slightly to $210.5 billion. This followed a 2.8 percent July decrease. New orders for manufactured nondurable goods decreased slightly to $193.1 billion. Electrical equipment, appliances and components, down two of the last three months, had the largest decrease, $0.9 billion or 8.6% to $9.9 billion. Transportation equipment, up following two consecutive monthly decreases, had the largest increase, $3.2 billion or 6.0% to $57.0 billion.

ISM Services Index:

ISM's Non-Manufacturing Business Activity Index in September declined to 52.9% compared to the 57% registered in August, indicating a slower rate of growth in business activity in September. The implication is that non-manufacturing business activity is continuing to increase for the 42nd consecutive month, but at a slower rate. 

The slower rate of growth indicated by this index is not reflected in some of the other indexes this month as evidenced by a 5.1 percentage point increase in the New Orders Index and a 2.2 percentage point increase in the Employment Index. This month, 10 sectors report increased business activity, six are reporting decreased activity, and two are indicating unchanged activity compared to August.

ISM's Non-Manufacturing Inventories Index registered 50.5 percent in September, a decrease of one percentage point compared to August. This is the 11th consecutive month of reported increases in non-manufacturing inventories. ISM's Non-Manufacturing Prices Index for September is 56.7 percent, 15.7 percentage points lower than August's index of 72.4 percent.

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