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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Fall Unexpectedly in February
by Tom Moeller  March 24, 2022

• Fewer aircraft orders lead downturn.

• Core capital goods orders ease following January surge.

• Shipments hold steady but backlogs & inventories increase.

Manufacturers' new orders for durable goods declined 2.2% (+10.3% y/y) in February after rising an unrevised 1.6% in January. The fall followed three months of strong gain and was the first since a 0.4% easing last September. A 0.6% decline had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Excluding transportation, orders declined 0.6% (+11.1% y/y) following a 0.8% rise, revised from 0.7%.

A 5.6% decline (+8.4% y/y) in transportation equipment orders led the overall February decline. It followed three months of strong increase. Defense aircraft orders surged 60.1% (-13.4% y/y), but orders for nondefense aircraft fell 30.4% in February following three consecutive months of double-digit increase. Motor vehicle & parts orders slipped 0.5% (+6.0% y/y). Outside of the transportation sector, machinery orders declined 2.6% (+12.7% y/y) and orders for computers & electronic products fell 1.1% (+4.2% y/y). Electrical equipment & appliance orders edged 0.2% higher (8.7% y/y).

Nondefense capital goods orders declined 6.7% last month (+14.8% y/y), but core capital goods orders eased just 0.3% (+11.0% y/y) in February following a 1.3% January rise.

Durable goods shipments were little changed (+12.3 y/y) in February following a two straight months 1.3% gain. Transportation shipments eased 0.6% (+9.6% y/y) following a 0.4% rise. Excluding transportation, shipments improved 0.2% in February (13.5% y/y) after a 1.6% jump. Machinery shipments declined 1.4% (+15.3% y/y) but shipments of computers and electronic products rose 1.1% (5.9% y/y). Shipments of electrical equipment and appliances increased 1.5% (13.9% y/y) while primary metals shipments gained 0.4% (23.1% y/y).

The advance reading on shipments of nondurable goods indicated a 1.1% increase (14.9% y/y) following a 1.4% January increase, revised from 1.3%. Shipments from all manufacturing industries increased 0.5% (13.6% y/y) in February after a 1.3% January rise. Capital goods shipments excluding defense and aircraft increased 0.5% (12.5% y/y) in February after an upwardly revised 2.1% gain.

Unfilled orders for durable goods rose 0.4% last month (8.4% y/y) following an unrevised 0.9% gain. Unfilled orders are not calculated for nondurable goods. Durable goods inventories increased 0.4% (10.0% y/y) following a 0.5% January gain. Nondurable goods inventories rose 0.9% (8.0% y/y) after increasing 1.2% in January.

The durable goods and nondurable goods data 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 % 2021 2020 2019
New Orders (SA, % chg) -2.2 1.6 1.2 10.3 21.0 -13.6 3.5
    Transportation -5.6 3.2 1.7 8.4 33.4 -35.5 13.2
  Total Excluding Transportation -0.6 0.8 1.0 11.1 16.4 -1.2 -1.3
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excl. Aircraft -0.3 1.3 0.4 11.0 15.1 1.0 -0.1
Shipments -0.0 1.3 1.3 12.3 12.7 -6.3 -1.4
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excl. Aircraft 0.5 2.1 1.7 12.5 13.0 -0.3 0.7
Unfilled Orders 0.4 0.9 0.8 8.4 7.7 -8.2 10.2
Inventories 0.4 0.5 0.8 10.0 9.5 0.5 5.9
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