Surprise Strength for US Durable Goods Orders

30 May 2008

WASHINGTON DC: The US Commerce Department has offered a glimmer of hope to the nation's beleaguered businesses with news that orders for durable goods fell less than expected in April.

Manufacturing orders for big ticket items slipped 0.5% lower last month, largely due to falls in auto and airline orders, but analysts had been predicting a 1.5% drop – hence the sigh of relief.

Opines Michael Darda, head economist at MKM partners: "The durable goods data fits into the perception that the economy is not as weak as had been widely feared."

Demand for transport goods fell 8%, with commercial aircraft dropping 24.4% and vehicle orders down 3.3%. However, primary metals orders grew 2.8% and machinery orders were up 4.2%.

Orders of electrical equipment and appliances soared nearly 28%, after a big slide in March.
Analysts say this was due to strong overseas demand, driven by a weak dollar.

Says Nigel Gault, chief US economist at Global Insight: "The strength of global demand has greatly dampened the extent of the slowdown in manufacturing production, and in the light of today's orders numbers, it will continue to do so."

Shipments of durable goods rose 1.2%, the sharpest gain since January.

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