Durable Goods Orders Decrease 1.7% in February

Second consecutive monthly decrease

New orders for manufactured durable goods in February decreased $3.6 billion or 1.7% to $210.6 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau said on March 26. This was the second consecutive monthly decrease and followed a 4.7% January decrease.

Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 2.6%.

Excluding defense, new orders decreased 1.6%.

"A scenario of economic uncertainty and tightened credit availability, amid high and rising costs for energy and other commodities, is not a conducive environment for business investment in capital equipment," said Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. " Manufacturing capacity utilization is declining, and the indicator of slack in the nonindustrial economy, the unemployment rate, is rising. The need for domestic capacity is waning.

"An important support for the industrial equipment sector is that exports are booming and imports are weak," he added. "A declining value of the U.S. dollar is providing countercyclical foreign demand to compensate for weak domestic needs for durable goods."

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in February, up seven of the last eight months, increased $1.6 billion or 0.5% to $323.7 billion. This was also at the highest level since the series was first stated on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a 0.6% January increase.

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