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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Fell in April
by Kathleen Stephansen  May 27, 2021

• Transportation orders drive the monthly decline in overall orders.

• Core capital goods orders remain on a strong trajectory.

• Shipments of durable goods and of core capital goods post healthy gains.

Manufacturers' orders for durable goods declined 1.3% in April (+60.1% y/y) after rising 1.3% during March, revised from the previously reported 0.8% on May 4. This was the first monthly decline since April of 2020. A 0.8% rise had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Last month's decline was driven by a 6.7% (+335.2% y/y) fall in transportation equipment orders, notably a decline of 6.2% in vehicle and parts orders. Excluding transportation, orders were up 1.0% (+29.9% y/y), following a 3.2% (+17.2% y/y) rise in March.

Orders for nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, "core capital goods" orders, rose a strong 2.3% (+27.1% y/y) in April, following a 1.6% (+14.8% y/y) rise in March.

In the major categories of the report, orders for primary metals rose 3.0% (+46.6% y/y), orders for fabricated metal products rose 0.9% (+46.9% y/y), orders for machinery rose 1.4% (+29.3% y/y), and for computers 0.4% (+9.5% y/y). Orders for electric equipment and appliances declined 0.9% over the month (+25.2% y/y).

Shipments of durable goods rose 0.6% in April (+37.4% y/y) following a 2.7% (+12.3% y/y) rise in March. Shipments of core capital goods rose 0.9% (+23.5% y/y). Shipments of transportation products dropped 0.4% over the month (+90% y/y), while shipments excluding transportation products rose 1.0% (+23.7% y/y).

Unfilled orders for durable goods rose 0.2% in April (-2.5% y/y), following a 0.5% rise in March (-4.4% y/y). Unfilled orders excluding transportation rose 1.6% (+10.1% y/y).

Inventories of durable goods rose 0.5% (+2.3% y/y) in April, following a 1.0% (+2.1% y/y) rise in March. Excluding transportation, inventories rose 0.4% (+1.1% y/y) and 0.8% (+0.8% y/y) in March.

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 Apr Mar Feb Apr Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
New Orders (SA, % chg) -1.3 1.3 1.3 60.1 -13.6 3.5 5.2
    Transportation -6.7 -3.1 5.6 335.2 -35.8 13.3 1.8
  Total Excluding Transportation 1.0 3.2 -0.5 29.9 -1.0 -1.4 7.0
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excl. Aircraft 2.3 1.6 -0.3 27.1 1.1 -0.1 6.0
Shipments 0.6 2.7 -3.1 37.4 -6.0 -1.5 5.8
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excl. Aircraft 0.9 1.5 -0.9 23.5 -0.2 0.6 6.4
Unfilled Orders 0.2 0.5 0.8 -2.5 -8.4 10.4 -1.9
Inventories 0.5 1.0 0.7 2.3 0.4 5.8 4.4
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