Surprise Leap in US Durables Orders During March

28 April 2003

The US economy continues to send mixed signals about recovery during March, surprising the pundits with an increase of two percent in orders for durable goods [those made to last for at least three years], according to the Commerce Department. Conversely, first-time claims for unemployment benefit hit 455,000 in the week to April 18 – the highest level in twelve months.

The rise in durables to $173.6 billion (€157.33bn; £109.31bn) followed on the heels of a 1.5% decline in February. The newly jobless figure was marginally up from the 447,000 recorded the week prior.

The pundits, as usual, mouthed their usual guesses. The good news on durable orders demonstrated that consumers and purchasing executives are “looking past all the bad news,” said DeutscheBank Securities' senior economist Joseph LaVorgna. “That tells me that at some point you are going to get job growth.” [Add a million bucks to the guy's bonus!]

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff