Economic Notes for the Week of March 11th

(+) The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index for February came in better than the expected 55.0 level with a small increase to 56.0.  New orders and business activity were higher, while employment deteriorated a bit (although still in expansionary territory).  Inventory expansion was also slightly higher.  Interestingly, anecdotal comments in the survey responses were optimistic with a general theme that business was ‘picking up’ in several industries in a more diversified way.

(+) Factory orders for January fell -2.0%, which was a touch better than the forecasted decline of -2.2%.  A large decline in aircraft orders (defense and non-defense—both of which are a ‘choppy’ series) accounted for a good portion of the result.  While ‘core’ (non-defense, non-aircraft) capital goods shipments fell -1.1% during the month, on the positive side, forward-looking core orders came in at a strong +7.2%.  Read more