US durable goods or­ders jump 4 per­cent in March


Or­ders to U.S. fac­to­ries for long-last­ing man­u­fac­tured goods in­creased by the largest amount in eight months. But a key cat­e­gory that tracks busi­ness in­vest­ment plans dropped for a sev­enth month, sug­gest­ing that man­u­fac­tur­ing is still strug­gling through a soft patch.

Or­ders for durable goods re­bounded 4 per­cent in March af­ter hav­ing fallen 1.4 per­cent in Fe­bru- ary, the Com­merce Depart­ment re­ported Fri­day. The re­sult was led by a big jump in de­mand for com­mer­cial air­craft. Out­side of the trans­porta­tion cat­e­gory, or­ders were down for a sixth straight month.

There was also a 0.5 per­cent drop in de­mand in the cat­e­gory that serves as a proxy for busi­ness in­vest­ment plans. The decline fol­lowed a 2.2 per­cent drop in Fe­bru­ary. This key in­vest­ment cat­e­gory has been down seven con­sec­u­tive months.

De­mand for com­mer­cial air­craft, a volatile cat­e­gory, jumped 30.6 per­cent in March af­ter a 2.2 per­cent decline in Fe­bru­ary. Or­ders for mo­tor ve­hi­cles rose 5.4 per­cent, and the over­all trans­porta­tion cat­e­gory ex­panded 13.5 per­cent. Ex­clud­ing trans­porta­tion, how­ever, the weak­ness was wide­spread with or­ders down 0.2 per­cent.

De­mand for pri­mary met­als such as steel edged down 0.2 per­cent, while or­ders for ma­chin­ery dropped 1.5 per­cent. De­mand for com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment fell 5.3 per­cent. Or­ders for com­put­ers rose and re­lated equip­ment rose 11 per­cent in one of the few ar­eas of strength in March.

U.S. man­u­fac­tur­ers have been hurt by a la­bor dis­pute at West Coast ports that dis­rupted sup­ply chains in the early part of the year. They were also hit with win­ter weather in many parts of the coun­try that was harsh enough to dis­rupt pro­duc­tion.

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