Haver Analytics
Haver Analytics
| May 26 2023

U.S. Manufacturers’ Durable Goods Orders Still Firm in April, but Some Industries Saw Declines

  • Transportation orders excluding aircraft & vehicles advanced in April.
  • Computers, electrical equipment & metals orders all decreased.
  • Shipments of all manufacturers were down, while inventories reversed March decline.

Manufacturers of durable goods reported their new orders rose 1.1% (+4.2% y/y) in April after advancing 3.3% in March and falling 2.7% in February. The Action Economics Forecast Survey had looked for April’s amount to fall 1.0%, reversing the March advance. But the outcome was clearly more positive.

New orders by industry were quite mixed in April. The strongest sector was “other transportation” – that is, total transportation less motor vehicles and aircraft; that “other” category expanded 29.5% in April, while aircraft rose 2.3% and motor vehicle orders edged down 0.1%. The sum of all transportation sectors was up 3.7% in April after a 9.9% increase in March and a decrease of 8.3% in February. Machinery orders expanded 1.0% after modest decreases of 0.2% in March and 0.1% in February.

Other industries had moderate declines in their April orders. New orders for computers and equipment fell 1.4%, after increasing 1.8% in March and 0.5% in February. Electrical equipment orders fell 1.0% in April after rising 0.3% in March and 1.4% in February. Primary metals orders eased 0.5% in April, following increases of 0.5% in March and 0.6% in February.

In another breakdown of these industries, orders for capital goods were down 1.0% in April following a 2.1% gain in March and a decline of 0.8% in February. The April performance was stronger for the defense sector, up 4.1%, while nondefense capital goods orders fell 1.8%.

Shipments of durable goods fell 0.7% (+2.8% y/y) in April, following a 0.7% increase in March and a 0.5% decrease in February. Shipments of durable goods excluding defense industries fell 0.1% (+2.3% y/y) in April after a fairly sizable gain of 0.8% in March but a decrease of 0.4% in February. Durable goods industries excluding transportation had modest moves in shipments of -0.2% (+0.9% y/y) in April, -0.1% in March and -0.3% in February. Shipments of nondurable goods industries edged down 0.1% (-3.3% y/y) in April following sizable decreases of 1.8% in March and 0.7% in February. These moves in shipments of durable goods and nondurable goods industries produced a 0.4% (-0.4% y/y) decrease in total manufacturing shipments in April, after decreases of 0.6% in each March and February.

Manufacturers’ unfilled orders of durable goods rose 0.8% (+5.2% y/y) in April after rising 0.4% in March but easing 0.1% in February. Inventories at all manufacturers increased 0.5% (+2.1% y/y) in April, partially reversing decreases of 0.8% in March and 0.1% in February. Durable goods manufacturers saw inventories rise 1.0% (2.7% y/y) in April after falling 1.0% in March and 0.1% in February. Nondurable goods manufacturers saw inventories edge down 0.2% (+1.3% y/y) in April after decreasing 0.7% in March and 0.3% in February.

Manufacturers’ orders and shipments of durable goods, as well as nondurable goods, are compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau; they are available in Haver’s USECON database. Unfilled orders and inventories are also included. The Action Economics forecast data are in the AS1REPNA database

  • Carol Stone, CBE came to Haver Analytics in 2003 following more than 35 years as a financial market economist at major Wall Street financial institutions, most especially Merrill Lynch and Nomura Securities. She has broad experience in analysis and forecasting of flow-of-funds accounts, the federal budget and Federal Reserve operations. At Nomura Securites, among other duties, she developed various indicator forecasting tools and edited a daily global publication produced in London and New York for readers in Tokyo.   At Haver Analytics, Carol is a member of the Research Department, aiding database managers with research and documentation efforts, as well as posting commentary on select economic reports. In addition, she conducts Ways-of-the-World, a blog on economic issues for an Episcopal-Church-affiliated website, The Geranium Farm.   During her career, Carol served as an officer of the Money Marketeers and the Downtown Economists Club. She has a PhD from NYU's Stern School of Business. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and has a weekend home on Long Island.

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