Boeing workers assemble an airliner engine in Washington Stephen Brashear, Getty Images

Drop in US Aircraft Sales Drag Down April Durable Goods

Despite the overall decline, the numbers showed some signs of continuing health in the crucial manufacturing sector at the start of the second quarter.

A sharp drop in sales of U.S. civilian aircraft held down durable goods orders in April, offsetting strong gains in other areas, according to government data released Thursday.

Despite the overall decline, the numbers showed some signs of continuing health in the crucial manufacturing sector at the start of the second quarter.

The April slump could still weigh on GDP growth, however.

Total orders for big-ticket manufactured items fell 1.7% for the month to $248.5 billion, slightly lower than economists were expecting.

But for the year-to-date, orders were still up 9.6% over the same period in 2017.

Volatile civilian aircraft sales fell 29%, giving back half of March's 60% increase and likely reflecting a decline in bookings by Boeing.

Auto sales rose a solid 1.8% ahead of the summer driving season. Defense aircraft rose 7.5%, reversing March's drop.

But outside the volatile transportation sector, which sees big swings from month to month, orders rose a healthy 0.9% from the prior month, the third straight monthly gain and faster than the 0.4% increase seen in March.

While orders for machinery fell, manufacturers in most other sectors saw significant increases, including computers and related products, and electrical and communications equipment.

Primary metals and fabricated metal products, industries which have seen rising prices due to tariffs on aluminum and steel imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump in March, gained 1.3% and 2% respectively.

Non-defense capital goods orders, a segment which can track changes in the price of oil, rose a solid one percent, more than reversing March's decrease.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2018

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