The 2020 Mid-Year Economic Update_long

Durable Goods New Orders Down 0.5% in April

Transportation equipment drove the decrease, down 2.5 percent.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in April decreased 0.5 percent to $235.5 billion, according to an advance report from the U.S. Census Bureau. This decrease, down two of the last three months, followed a 5.1 percent March increase.

Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.5 percent. Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.2 percent. Transportation equipment, also down two of the last three months, drove the decrease, down 2.5 percent to $77.9 billion.

"The April report as a whole suggests that modest big-ticket spending has resumed after a very weak first quarter," said Cliff Waldman, director of economic studies for the MAPI Foundation, the research affiliate of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. "Industry sectors that coordinate with multiple supply chains, such as primary and fabricated metals as well as machinery, all logged significant positive gains in April after disquieting contractions in the early months of the year."

"While these data are encouraging, it is clear that the economy’s post–first quarter reawakening will not be as strong as in 2014," Waldman added. "Almost all major indicators of durables spending are down from last year, some significantly."

Shipments of manufactured durable goods in April, down three of the last four months, decreased 0.1 percent to $240.5 billion. This followed a 1.5 percent March increase.

Primary metals, down six of the last seven months, drove the decrease, down 2.1 percent to $21.6 billion.

Unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods in April, down four of the last five months, were virtually unchanged at $1,203.1 billion. This followed a 0.1 percent March increase.

Machinery, down six of the last seven months, drove the decrease, down 0.7 percent to $115.7 billion.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods in April, up twenty-four of the last twenty-five months, increased 0.2 percent to $401.5 billion. This was at the highest level since the series was first published on a NAICS basis in 1992 and followed a virtually unchanged March increase. Transportation equipment, up sixteen of the last seventeen months, led the increase, up 0.5 percent to $130.3 billion.

Nondefense new orders for capital goods in April increased 0.3 percent to $81.2 billion. Shipments increased 1.6 percent to $80.2 billion. Unfilled orders increased 0.1 percent to $763.3 billion. Inventories increased 0.2 percent to $177.4 billion.

Defense new orders for capital goods in April decreased 9.5 percent to $8.4 billion. Shipments decreased 2.8 percent to $9.5 billion. Unfilled orders decreased 0.7 percent to $151.4 billion. Inventories increased 2.5 percent to $21.7 billion.

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