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Durable Goods Orders Fall on Motor Vehicles

Bill Koenig
By Bill Koenig Senior Editor, SME Media

Orders for durable goods fell in February on a decline in orders for motor vehicles and parts, the U.S. Commerce Department said today.

Orders declined 1.1 percent to $254 billion, according to a monthly report. That snapped a streak of nine consecutive monthly increases. January orders rose by an adjusted 3.5 percent to $256.9 billion.

Pacing the February results was an 8.7 percent monthly decline in orders for motor vehicles and parts to $57.6 billion.

 Production of cars and trucks has been disrupted by a global shortage of computer chips. Automakers have implemented downtime at some operations. The companies have moved to maintain output of trucks while reducing output of less-popular cars.

The overall transportation equipment category slid 1.6 percent last month to $83.6 billion. That ended a streak of five consecutive monthly gains.

Orders for commercial aircraft and parts more than doubled to $9.5 billion. The aerospace sector was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. That resulted in lower demand for air travel and canceled orders for aircraft.

Boeing Co.’s 737 Max received U.S. regulatory approval last year to return to the air. Chicago-based Boeing is seeking similar approval from other nations.

Orders for defense aircraft slipped 3.7 percent to $4.7 billion.

Excluding transportation, new orders fell 0.9 percent. Excluding defense, orders declined 0.7 percent.

Among other categories, orders for machinery slipped 0.6 percent to $33.4 billion. Orders for fabricated metal products declined 0.9 percent to $33.5 billion. Orders for primary metals slid 0.5 percent to $20.6 billion.

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

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