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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Strengthen Broadly
by Tom Moeller  April 27, 2011

New orders for durable goods jumped 2.5% last month after a 0.7% February gain, revised up from -0.9% reported initially. Consensus expectations were for a 1.5% increase. Another jump in transportation sector orders fueled last month's increase. Motor vehicle & parts orders rose 3.7% (15.8% y/y) after a like increase during February. Orders for aircraft & parts also gained 2.5% (79.4% y/y) following the 14.4% February jump. Excluding the transportation sector altogether, orders rose 1.3% after a 0.6% February gain, revised from -0.6%.

Outside of the transportation sector, the gain in new orders last month was broad-based. Strength in the capital goods sector raised nondefense capital goods orders, less aircraft, by 3.7%. That gain was paced by a 4.2% increase (10.0% y/y) in machinery orders. Orders for electrical equipment & appliances also rose 3.1% (3.1% y/y). Orders for computers & electronic components fell 1.1% (-0.8% y/y). Defense capital goods bookings rose 7.6% (-17.7% y/y).

Shipments of durable goods also improved last month by 1.8% and 7.2% y/y. That gain compares to an 11.2% y/y increase in March industrial production of durable goods. Less transportation, shipments rose 1.4% (7.7% y/y) after no-change in February. Inventory accumulation continued strong last month. A 1.3% increase matched the upwardly-revised February increase and pulled inventories up 11.5% y/y. As orders outpaced shipments, unfilled orders rose 0.8%, the third consecutive like increase and 5.7% y/y.

The durable goods figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

NAICS Classification (%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2010 2009 2008
Durable Goods Orders 2.5 0.7 3.7 10.5 13.6 -20.7 -9.0
  Excluding Transportation 1.3 0.6 -2.9 6.1 13.8 -18.4 -2.5
Nondefense Capital Goods 3.2 5.2 6.7 20.9 21.9 -26.8 -12.6
  Excluding Aircraft 3.7 0.5 -5.9 9.2 16.9 -19.8 -4.2
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