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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Decline Led by Aircraft
by Tom Moeller  April 2, 2019

New orders for durable goods fell 1.6% (+1.8% y/y) during February following a 0.1% January uptick, revised from 0.4%. A 1.0% easing had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. The decline was led by a 4.8% (-0.8% y/y) falloff in transportation sector orders, which were dragged lower by a roughly one-third drop in nondefense aircraft bookings. Orders for defense aircraft rose 2.5% (18.9% y/y). Motor vehicle & parts orders eased 0.1% (+8.4% y/y) following a 0.5% fall.

Nondefense capital goods orders declined 6.3% (-3.8% y/y) after a 1.4% rise. Orders excluding aircraft eased 0.1% (+2.6% y/y) following a 0.9% January gain.

New orders outside of the transportation sector improved 0.1% (3.3% y/y) and reversed the January uptick. Orders for electrical equipment rose 1.0% (4.5% y/y) following a 1.3% gain. Primary metals orders rose 0.7% (5.3% y/y) after a 1.8% decline, and fabricated metal orders nudged 0.3% higher (6.2% y/y) following a 0.4% drop. Working lower by 0.3% (+0.7% y/y) were machinery orders after a 2.0% jump. Orders for computers & electronic product also eased 0.3% (+6.1% y/y), led down by a 1.6% drop (+7.4% y/y) in communications equipment bookings. Orders for computers & related products eased 0.5% (+3.5% y/y), down for the third month in the last four.

Durable product shipments improved 0.2% (5.5% y/y) after a 0.4% decline. Excluding a 0.3% (+8.8% y/y) easing in the transportation sector, durable shipments improved 0.5% (3.9% y/y). Shipments of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft were fairly steady (3.5% y/y) after a 1.0% jump.

Unfilled durable goods orders declined 0.3% (+3.5% y/y) after rough stability during the prior two months. Backlogs outside of the transportation were unchanged (4.5% y/y) following a 0.1% improvement. Inventories of durable goods rose 0.3% (4.8% y/y) following a 0.5% rise in January. Inventories outside of the transportation sector were fairly steady (5.1% y/y) after moderate m/m increases during the prior two years.

The durable goods figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics consensus forecast figure is in the AS1REPNA database

Durable Goods NAICS Classification Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
New Orders (SA, % chg) -1.6 0.1 1.3 1.8 7.8 5.4 -1.7
  Transportation -4.8 0.4 3.2 -0.8 9.6 3.4 -0.7
Total Excluding Transportation 0.1 -0.1 0.3 3.3 6.8 6.5 -2.3
  Nondefense Capital Goods -6.3 1.4 4.5 -3.8 5.6 9.1 -5.8
    Excluding Aircraft -0.1 0.9 -0.8 2.6 5.9 6.7 -4.5
Shipments 0.2 -0.4 0.7 5.5 7.0 4.0 -2.4
Unfilled Orders -0.3 0.1 -0.1 3.5 3.8 2.0 -1.2
Inventories 0.3 0.5 0.3 4.8 4.7 4.6 -3.0
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