Durable Goods Decrease 5.3%

Economist says current decline should be cushioned by strong global climate.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in January decreased $12.0 billion or 5.3% to $212.8 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Feb. 27. This decrease followed two consecutive monthly increases including a 4.4% December increase.

Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 1.6%. Excluding defense, new orders decreased 4.7%.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in January, up six of the last seven months, increased $2.0 billion or 0.6% to $322.3 billion.

Nondefense new orders for capital goods in January decreased $6.6 billion or 8.1% to $74.6 billion. Defense new orders for capital goods in January decreased $2.3 billion or 19.9% to $9.3 billion.

"While the January durable goods report shows that overall orders began 2008 on a weak note, recent months reveal that capital spending behavior is mixed and is surprisingly stable given the mounting challenges to U.S. economic growth," said Cliff Waldman, economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. "New orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for business equipment spending, fell by 1.4% in January, only partially backtracking from the 5.2% surge seen in December. While key industries such as primary metals and computers showed weakness, the current manufacturing decline should be cushioned by a relatively strong global economic climate and business investment that, while weak, has yet to demonstrate the significant and protracted contraction seen in the 2000-2003 period."

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