U.S. factory goods rose in 1.6% in January, including a 2% raise in orders for durable goods, according to a report released today by the Commerce Dept. Analysts said the report offers signs that the manufacturing sector slump may be nearing the end.
Transportation equipment rose 4.1% after rising 1.8% in December, mainly due to a sharp rise in demand for defense aircraft and parts.
The report also showed a 0.6% drop in inventories as manufacturers continued to deplete back stocks. The inventory-to-shipments ratio, which measures how long it would take to deplete supplies at the current shipment pace, was 1.33 months, down from 1.37 in December and the lowest level since July 2000.