US durable goods orders fall 5.7% in March, led by aircraft

24 April 2013 14:37  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US orders for durable goods fell sharply by 5.7% in March from February, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday, with much of the downturn laid to a nearly 50% plummet in airliner orders, although the decline was broad-based.

In its monthly report, the department said that new orders for manufactured durable goods in March fell by $13.1bn (€10bn) to $216.3bn, a decline of 5.7% from February.

The March downturn in durable goods orders followed a February gain of 4.3%, but the department noted that orders have been down in two of the last three months.

Much of the March decline was attributed to the 48.2% drop in new orders for civilian aircraft and parts, and there was also an 11.4% downturn in orders for military aircraft.

New orders for motor vehicles and parts were essentially flat in March.

With all transportation orders backed out of the overall total, demand for durable goods in March was down by 1.4%, suggesting a general downturn in orders for long-lasting manufactured products.

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

Only computers and communications equipment saw any meaningful gains in March, up by 5% and 5.6% respectively.

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 report also said that unfilled orders for durable goods last month fell by $6.4bn or 0.6% to $991.2bn.  This decline followed a 0.7% gain in February.

Inventories of manufactured but unsold durable goods rose last month by $300m or 0.1% to $377.2bn and followed a 0.4% gain in February.

US durable goods orders and inventories*



(bn $)

Mar vs Feb


Feb vs Jan (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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