ARLINGTON, Va. - Combined U.S. factory shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps for March totaled 725,286, a decrease of 7.1 percent compared with the same month last year, according to ARI.

The Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute also reports that heat pump shipments for March totaled 247,084, up 31.1 percent from last year.

Factory stocks for March 2006 were up 36,234 units from February 2006, and down 160,134 units from March of last year. Distributor inventories for March 2006 were up 63,629 units from the previous month, and up 92,979 units from the same month last year.

Distributor shipments for March 2006 were down 3 percent compared to the same month last year, with year-to-date shipments up 20.2 percent.