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Durable Goods Orders Rise on Aircraft

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Durable goods orders rose last month, boosted by commercial and defense aircraft, the U.S. Commerce said today.

Orders gained 1.3 percent from the previous month to $240.8 billion, according to a monthly report. It was the sixth monthly increase. Manufacturing has been recovering since plant shutdowns earlier this year intended to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Excluding transportation equipment, orders also rose 1.3 percent, the department said. Excluding defense, orders only increased by 0.2 percent.

The overall transportation equipment category saw a monthly rise of 1.2 percent to $77.1 billion.

Within transportation, orders for commercial aircraft and parts increased 39 percent to $2.6 billion. For much of the year, that category has been in negative territory as airlines canceled orders for planes as COVID-19 reduced demand for air travel.

The commercial aircraft sector still faces uncertain prospects in the coming months. Promising COVID-19 vaccines are in development. But forecasts vary as to how quickly demand for air travel will recover.

Orders for defense aircraft and parts posted a 79 percent monthly gain to $2.96 billion.

The motor vehicles and parts category, a relative bright spot in recent months, saw a 3.2 percent decrease to $60.1 billion. The North American auto industry has mostly recovered from COVID-19, helped by demand for large pickups and SUVs.

Among other categories, orders for fabricated metal products gained 2.3 percent to $31.8 billion. Orders for primary metals rose 0.4 percent to $19.4 billion. Orders for machinery fell 0.6 percent to $31.6 billion.

The Commerce Department report is based on a survey of about 3,100 companies.

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