New orders for manufactured goods in April increased 0.4% to $577.5 billion, according to a monthly report by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The $2.6 billion increase in new orders follows a 0.6% increase in March. New orders have been up in four of the last five months.
Inventory levels were also up 0.5% following two consecutive monthly decreases. Inventories were $856.7 billion — a $4.2 billion increase in April. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was 1.50, up from 1.48 in March.
Meanwhile, shipments — down five of the last six months — decreased $2.5 billion or 0.4% percent to $572.3 billion.
Unfilled orders have been up four of the last five months. In April, unfilled orders increased $10.4 billion or 0.8% to $1,291.3 billion. This followed a 0.4% March increase.
The unfilled orders-to-shipments ratio was 6.71, up from 6.60 in March.
Transportation equipment had the largest impact on new orders, inventory, shipment and unfilled order numbers. In April, the category drove the new order increase with a 3.7% jump to $97.7 billion; led the decrease in shipments with a 1.8% fall to $87.4 billion; led the increase in unfilled orders with a 1.3% rise to $792.4 billion; and led the inventories increase with a 3.2% increase to $164.1 billion.
The report from the Census Bureau coincided with the Institute for Supply Management’s monthly Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) — a well-regarded barometer of the U.S. industrial economy. In April, the PMI rose to 47.1%, but in May fell back into the decline trend. Read more on ISM’s monthly PMI.