Durable Goods Report Disappoints

Compiled By Jill Jusko Disappointing is likely the kindest way to describe the April durable goods report issued May 28 by the U.S. Commerce Department. New orders for manufactured durable goods dropped 2.4% to $168.9 billion following a rise of 1.4% the previous month. Even excluding transportation, which is noted for wild swings, new orders declined by 1.2%. The figures are seasonally adjusted and do not include the semiconductor industry. Shipments of manufactured durable goods also declined in April, down $1.3 billion, or 0.7%, to $170.3 billion. This follows a 0.5% increase in March. Unfilled orders decreased $1.4 billion, or 0.3%, to $476.6 billion, following a 0.3% increase in March, and inventories dropped by 0.1%, or $300 million, to $263.9 billion. Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist for High Frequency Economics Ltd., a market analysis firm based in Valhalla, N.Y., suggested that a pre-war decline in business activity as well as seasonal factors related to the Easter holiday, may have played a part in the depressed orders. The Commerce Department also reported that beginning with the July report of durable goods, which will be issued Aug. 26, semiconductor shipment data will again be included in the report, as well as inventory levels at higher-level aggregates.

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