Durable Orders Grow More Than Expected

Reversing a sharp decline in January, orders for autos, appliances and other manufactured durable goods, generally big-ticket items designed to last at least three years, gained ground in February, and by more than many economists anticipated.

New orders increased 2.6% last month to $215.8 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on March 24. Economists generally were looking for a 1.2% increase, less than half the actual increase. February's increase in new orders for durables was the fourth in the past five months and followed an 8.9% decrease in January.

New orders for computers, communications equipment, and non-defense aircraft and parts all rose in February, non-defense aircraft by a spectacular 52.5%. At the same time, new orders fell for primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, electrical equipment and appliances, autos, and defense aircraft and parts.

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