Owing partly to a steep decline in aircraft orders, U.S. durable goods orders plunged 10.2%. Despite the surprisingly sharp drop, analysts said the underlying trend for durable goods, a gauge of the health of manufacturing, remained strong.
The decline in orders for big-ticket items expected to last three years or more was the largest since July 2000 and far exceeded the 2% drop expected by economists.
Aircraft orders fell 68.2% in January after averaging more than three times the normal level from October through December. Total transportation orders fell 31.2%.
Orders were healthier elsewhere in the durable goods industries, but the performance was mixed across sectors. Excluding transportation goods, total orders rose 0.6%.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006