U.S. Durable Goods Orders Slip In March

By Agence France-Presse Orders for durable goods -- big-ticket items such as washing machines or cars -- slipped 0.6% in March from the previous month, the government said April 24. Orders fell to a seasonally adjusted $173.41 billion in March from $174.38 billion in February, the first decline in four months, the Commerce Department said. The decline defied Wall Street analysts' expectations for a rise of 0.3% in the month. Durable goods orders surged a revised 2.7% in February, however, up from the first estimate of a 1.8% increase, the Commerce Department said. "Today's data on durable goods shows that corporate executives are still wary of boosting investment," said Manufacturers Alliance President and CEO Thomas Duesterberg. "We don't anticipate a strong investment picture until we have had two to three quarters of strong sales to end users. "Overall growth will remain modest until investment accelerates later in the year." The Commerce Department said it had stopped providing estimates for the semiconductor industry because so many chip manufacturers had declined to participate in its monthly survey. "This month's numbers are a little distorted as the semiconductor companies declined to participate in the survey," said Barclays Capital economist Henry Willmore. The deterioration in March was led by transportation equipment, which posted a 1.6% fall in orders, and capital goods, which declined 0.1%. Transportation equipment orders fell 1.6%. Motor vehicles and parts orders slumped 2.6% while aircraft and parts orders surged 9.5% in the month. Orders for non-defense capital goods, a key indicator of business plans to expand and modernize, dropped 2.8%. But defense capital goods orders leapt 17.8%. Machinery orders eased 1.4%. And computers and electronic products orders fell 1.7%. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2002

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