'Normal' Manufacturing Data Set Up a Strong Jobs Report Friday

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Glitches aside, this week's manufacturing data look pretty normal, reinforcing the picture of steady, if not spectacular, cyclical growth that will push private employment up when closely watched jobs reports hit later this week.

The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that April factory orders rose 0.7%,  topping forecasts of 0.5% growth and hitting the highest level since the factory orders index was first calculated in its current form in 1992. The March increase was also revised upward, to 1.5%.

The orders report comes a day after the Institute of Supply Managers' purchasing managers survey reported its measures of sentiment, new orders and hiring plans pointed to slightly stronger growth than in April, continuing a recovery from this winter's weakness. At least, it did once ISM fixed its software error that mistakenly caused the institute to report a slowdown in manufacturing growth.

The details of the report point to more growth ahead. In particular, Tuesday's report -- showing unfilled orders for capital goods are up 1.1% -- suggest manufacturers will continue to need more workers. That buttresses the expectations that Friday's jobs report will include at least the 213,000 new jobs projected in a survey of economists by Econoday. A preview will come when payroll processor ADP reports private-sector hiring on Wednesday.

Some details of the shape of the new and unfilled orders are especially encouraging. Unfilled orders for computers rose 4.7%, while those construction materials rose 1.1%. Consumers generally are in a buying mood, with new orders for non-durable consumer goods rising 1.0%, more than enough to offset a decline in the much smaller category of consumer durables like refrigerators. Overall, consumer orders rose 0.7%.

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