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Durable Goods Orders Rise in December

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Durable goods orders increased in December, aided by orders for machinery, the U.S. Commerce Department said today.

Orders totaled $245.3 billion, a gain of 0.2 from November. It was the eighth consecutive monthly increase.

The machinery category posted a 2.4 percent monthly increase to $33.2 billion. December also marked the eighth straight gain for the sector.

Excluding transportation, orders increased 0.7 percent, the department said. Excluding defense, the gain in orders was 0.5 percent.

Other categories reporting increases included fabricated metal products, up 0.6 percent to $32.1 billion, and primary metals, up 0.3 percent to $19.9 billion.

Transportation equipment lagged other sectors, posting a 1 percent decline to $78 billion.

There were splits within transportation. Motor vehicles and parts had a 1.4 percent increase in December to $63.2 billion. Auto industry demand has recovered more quickly than other sectors from plant shutdowns early in 2020 aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

At the same time, orders for commercial aircraft and parts slid 52 percent to $1.14 billion. Orders for defense aircraft decreased 5 percent to $2.85 billion.

COVID-19 has cut demand for air travel, with airlines canceling orders for planes. Chicago-based Boeing Co. today reported a record full-year loss of almost $12 billion, reflecting general industry conditions and problems stemming from the 737 Max aircraft.

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

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