The U.S. Census Bureau reported U.S. manufacturers’ new orders for durable goods declined 0.9%, or $1.9 billion, in February to a total of $200.0 billion. The agency added that the drop signifies the fourth monthly decrease in five months, following the 3.6% rise recorded for January.
The Bureau’s data is seasonally adjusted but is not indexed for inflation.
The largest February decline in demand for durable goods was noted in the machinery sector, which was down for the second straight month, with a February decrease of $1.2 billion, or 4.2%, to $26.6 billion.
Excluding transportation, overall new orders for durable goods decreased 0.6%, the Census Bureau noted. Excluding defense, new orders for durable goods increased 0.4%.
Census Bureau analysts suggested that demand for durable is being driven by foreign demand for machinery, trucks, aircraft, and similar for durable goods, as indicated by shipment data. Separate reporting by the Institute for Supply Management — showing that new export orders have grown for 20 straight months, and grew at the fastest pace over 20 years during February — supports this interpretation.
In terms of shipments, U.S. manufactured durable goods increased in value by $700 million in February, or 0.3% to $203.2 billion. It was the second consecutive month of increase. Machinery shipments increased for the third time in four months, by $700 million in February, or up 2.6% to $26.1 billion.
Inventories of manufactured durable goods were up in February for the fourteenth straight month, by $2.9 billion, 0.9%, to $328.3 billion. January had a comparable a 0.9% increase. Transportation equipment had the largest increase, the Census Bureau noted, $0.8 billion, or 0.9%, to $87.8 billion.