Business-Equipment Orders Post Third Drop in Four Months

Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News

Orders placed with U.S. factories for business equipment fell in February for the third time in four months, suggesting corporate investment remains subdued amid a slowing global economy and uncertainty over the trade war with China.

Non-military capital-goods orders excluding aircraft — a proxy for business investment — fell 0.1%, after an upwardly revised 0.9% increase the prior month, according to Commerce Department figures released April 2. The broader measure of bookings for all durable goods, or items meant to last at least three years, dropped by less than expected.

The data add to signs that U.S. economic growth is cooling from last year as slowing expansion in China and Europe weighs on corporate America. At the same time, a separate report April 1 showed a factory index from the Institute for Supply Management rebounded in March from a two-year low.


Some figures that are used to calculate gross domestic product were slightly more encouraging: Shipments of non-military capital goods excluding aircraft were unchanged, compared with the Bloomberg survey median estimate of a 0.1% decline, and the prior month was revised upward. The headline durable-goods figures reflect a 31.1% plunge in orders for civilian aircraft and parts, a category that tends to be volatile. Separate data showed Boeing Co.’s aircraft orders fell in February from the prior month.