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Durable Goods Orders Rebound on Transportation Equipment

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Durable goods orders increased in May, paced by a massive surge in orders for transportation equipment, the Commerce Department said in a report today.

Orders rose 15.8 percent to $194.4 billion last month. That was better than the median estimate of a 10.5 percent increase from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Leading the way was an increase of 80.7 percent for transportation equipment to $46.9 billion.

The increase in overall durable goods orders follows an adjusted decline in orders of 18.1 percent in April as the economy halted because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Excluding transportation, the May increase was 4 percent. Excluding defense, orders rose 15.5 percent.

The transportation category included a 27.5 percent jump for motor vehicles and parts to $28.2 billion in May from $22.1 billion in April. However, the May figure was well below the $47.8 billion in March.

Automakers began restarting North American plants last month following COVID-19 shutdowns. General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and FCA US LLC want to get output of large pickups, their main source of profit, back up to speed.

Commercial aircraft orders totaled $3.1 billion last month following two months in negative territory amid order cancellations. Orders for defense aircraft gained 6 percent to $4.2 billion.

Airlines have cut schedules and canceled aircraft orders as demand for air travel declined because of COVID-19. Boeing Co. is cutting jobs.

Among other categories, orders for primary metals gained 9.1 percent to $17.2 billion. Orders for fabricated metal products increased 7.4 percent to $28.1 billion. Orders for machinery rose 1.1 percent to $28.8 billion.

The durable goods report is based on a survey of about 3,100 companies.

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