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Durable Goods Orders Rise in March

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Durable goods orders increased in March, with various industries contributing to the gain, the U.S. Commerce Department said today.

Orders rose 0.5 percent to $256.3 billion, the department said in a monthly report. That was up from an adjusted $254.9 billion in February.

March represented the 10th increase in the past 11 months.

Monthly gains occurred in fabricated metal products (up 3.6 percent to $35.4 billion); primary metals (up 1.2 percent to $21.2 billion); and machinery (up 1 percent to almost $34 billion).

For fabricated metal products, it was the sixth monthly gain in the past seven months.

Excluding transportation, new orders rose 1.6 percent. Excluding defense, orders increased 0.5 percent.

The transportation category was mixed. The overall sector was down 1.7 percent to $81.9 billion.

However, motorized vehicles and parts surged 5.5 percent to $60.5 billion. The auto industry was one of the first manufacturing industries to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. More recently, the industry has been held back by a global shortage of computer chips.

Orders for commercial aircraft and parts slid 47 percent to $5.1 billion. Orders for defense aircraft and parts declined 20 percent to $3.6 billion.

The aerospace industry still is struggling to overcome COVID-19. Airlines canceled orders amid a sharp decline in demand for air travel. COVID-19 vaccinations may help that demand recover.

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

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