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Factory orders rise 6% in May; shipments up 3%

HIGH POINT — Furniture factory orders in May were 6% ahead of May 2012, but were up just 4% for the first five months of the year, according to the latest survey from the accounting and consulting firm Smith Leonard.

The survey also showed that May shipments were 3% higher than May 2012, while both order backlogs and payrolls rose 8% in the same period.

"The last couple of months' results from our survey have been pretty good, yet from what we hear on the street, no one seems overly excited," managing partner Ken Smith wrote in a newsletter accompanying the survey results. "There just doesn't seem to be consistency, or as we call it, a lack of traction."

Smith noted that business conditions have remained essentially the same for several months, even though economic indicators such as consumer confidence and the housing market are improving.

However, he said fluctuating gasoline prices continue to be a drag on the economy, and noted that the employment picture is improving, but "continues to make people a bit nervous."

"In general, the whole economy is just shuffling along, and the industry seems to be shuffling along with it," Smith wrote.

The 6% jump in May factory orders followed an April increase of 11%. Orders in March and February, however, were slightly below the comparable month in 2012.


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