US durable goods remain flat in Oct, held back by transportation

27 November 2012 16:55  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US orders for durable goods were essentially flat in October from September, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday, with gains in overall manufacturing offset by declines in purchases of military and civilian aircraft and parts.

In its monthly report, the department said that new orders for durable goods in October were at $216.9bn (€167bn), an advance of just $48m from the September figure.

But that marginal improvement was enough to mark the fifth monthly gain in new orders in the last six months.  September had seen a strong 9.2% gain in new orders for durable goods.

The razor-thin October gain would have been better, the department said, but for sharp declines in new orders for transportation equipment, with civilian aircraft purchases down by 5.8%, warplane buys off by 4.3% and orders for motor vehicles falling by 1.9% from September’s figures.

Transportation orders often are separated from the overall durable goods data because aviation purchases typically are made in multiple-plane batches, and in any given month, those sales or their lack can disproportionately affect the big picture.

With transportation items excluded from the overall total, durable goods orders saw a gain of 1.5% in October from September.

Durable goods are manufactured products meant to last three years or more and include such items as automobiles, appliances, transportation and manufacturing equipment. 

Many durable goods, such as computers and automobiles, are major downstream markets for chemicals and chemicals-based products used in manufacturing processes or as end-product components.

The department said that unfilled orders for durable goods rose by 0.2% or $2.3bn last month to $982.5bn and followed a 0.1% gain in September.  Unfilled orders have shown increases in four of the last five months.

Inventories of produced but unsold durable goods rose by $1.6bn or 0.4% in October from September, the report said, reaching $374.4bn, the highest level since the data series began in 1992.  The October gain followed a 0.2% advance in September.

US durable goods orders and inventories*



(bn $)

Oct vs Sep


Sep vs Aug (r)


New orders




Unfilled orders




Total inventories




r: revised  *seasonally adjusted

($1 = €0.77)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

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