Orders for manufactured U.S. durable goods rebounded 2.5% in February, as demand for new aircraft picked up, the Commerce Department said March 28.
The rebound in orders, however, was weaker than most Wall Street analysts had forecast amid a slowdown of the wider U.S. economy. Most analysts had anticipated that orders for big-ticket manufactured goods, including cars, aircraft and washing machines, would increase 3.5%.
"The increase in February represents a deceptively sluggish pace," said Daniel J. Meckstroth, chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. Februarys orders were concentrated in defense and aerospace -- notoriously volatile sectors. Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a key indicator of equipment spending in the GDP accounts, declined 1.2% in February after falling 7.4% in the first month of the year.
"It is still too early to tell if the equipment spending slowdown is merely weather-related or a real shift toward risk avoidance by businesses amid the uncertainty surrounding the housing decline and mortgage credit problems," he added."
January's plunge in orders was revised deeper to a decline of 9.3%, compared with a prior estimate of an 8.7% drop, marking the worst dropoff in demand in almost seven years.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007