Factory orders fell 2.4 percent in November but were actually up 0.1 percent when excluding transportation equipment and a 94 percent monthly downswing in commercial aircraft orders. And an important strength in the report is a 0.9 percent rise in orders for core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft), a second straight significant gain that points to improvement in business investment.
Factory inventories rose 0.2 percent in the month which, though keeping the sector's inventory-to-shipment ratio unchanged at 1.34, will add to the increase in next Friday's business inventories report which will include sharp November builds from the wholesale and retail sectors.
Factory shipments edged 0.1 percent lower in November with shipments of core capital goods, in another positive for business investment, up 0.2 percent. Unfilled factory orders, aside from an unusual 0.8 percent rise in October, have been very soft with November down 0.1 percent.
Monthly swings in aircraft aside, the factory sector appears to have ticked higher going into year-end, underscored by this morning's surprising 17,000 rise in factory payrolls. Among other details in today's report, the split between the report's two main components shows a 0.2 percent dip for nondurable goods and a 4.5 percent decline for durable orders (1 tenth lower than last week's advance report on this component).