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Furniture factory orders, shipments jump in January

HIGH POINT — Furniture factories got off to a quick start this year as January orders were up 7% and shipments up 10% from the same month in 2012, Smith Leonard reported.

 Factory orders in January

The accounting and consulting firm said its monthly survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors showed that 65% of participants reported higher orders, some by double digits.

"In addition, we had fewer participants reporting double digit declines in order levels, so overall it appears we were off to a good start in 2013 based on January results," Ken Smith, the firm's managing partner, wrote in his monthly Furniture Insights newsletter.

The January gain was against a strong month in 2012, when orders were up 11% from 2011. This January also marked a turnaround from order declines in November and December.

"If there is any negative news to report this month, it is that based on our conversations, the positive results for January have not continued through February and March," Smith said. He said business may have been affected by continued stormy weather, and noted that consumer confidence took a hit in March with the federal spending sequester creating uncertainty about the economy.

But on the positive side, housing continues to rebound, he added. While there are some concerns that the recovery may be moving too fast, he said, "The good news is banks are still making sensible mortgage loans so we should not be concerned with another ‘bubble,' at least at this point."

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