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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Dragged Lower By Aircraft
by Tom Moeller  April 25, 2012

New orders for durable goods fell 4.2% last month following a little-revised 1.9% February increase. Consensus expectations had been for a 0.6% decline. Lower orders for transportation equipment led last month's decline with a 12.5% (-4.0% y/y) fall. That drop was led by 47.6% fewer (-18.2% y/y) orders for nondefense aircraft & parts. Motor vehicle & parts bookings were essentially unchanged (+3.1% y/y).

Outside of the transportation sector there also was weakness last month. These orders fell 1.1% (+5.0% y/y) following a 1.9% February rise. The orders decline was led by a 2.6% drop (+4.2% y/y) in machinery. Additionally, orders for computers & electronic products fell 1.8% (+0.7% y/y). Offsetting these declines was a 3.2% gain (-0.6% y/y) in bookings for electrical equipment, appliances & components.

Growth in investment spending eased as indicated by a 10.5% drop (0.0% y/y) in nondefense capital goods orders led by the decline in aircraft. Excluding aircraft, orders also slipped 0.8% (+3.9% y/y) and they've wobbled sideways for the last six months. Defense capital goods orders jumped 10.3% (-11.8% y/y) for the third straight month of firm gain.

Shipments of durable goods jumped 1.0% (6.0% y/y) last month. Less the transportation sector, shipments also rose a firm 0.8% (6.7% y/y) led by a 6.5% increase (12.5% y/y) in machinery shipments. Durable goods inventories increased another 0.4% (8.0% y/y) while unfilled orders were unchanged (+9.7% y/y).

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

Durable Goods NAICS Classification (%) Mar Feb Jan Y/Y 2011 2010 2009
Orders -4.2 1.9 -3.5 2.7 10.1 15.4 -27.3
 Nondefense Capital Goods -10.5 1.0 -5.0 0.0 14.5 28.0 -31.0
  Excluding Aircraft -0.8 2.8 -3.4 3.9 10.2 17.2 -20.4
Shipments 1.0 -0.3 0.1 6.0 8.0 6.2 -20.4
Inventories 0.4 0.3 0.6 8.0 10.7 9.9 -9.0
Unfilled Orders 0.0 1.2 0.7 9.7 9.7 3.9 -15.2
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