Durable Goods Orders Rise for First Time in Three Months

Firms Signal Optimism on Economy
Boeing plant
Workers assemble Boeing 737 airplanes. (Barry Sweet/Bloomberg News)

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New orders placed with U.S. factories for durable goods rose in February for the first time in three months, suggesting firms are somewhat optimistic about the direction of the economy.

Bookings for all durable goods — items meant to last at least three years — increased 1.4%, following a downwardly revised 6.9% drop in January, Commerce Department figures showed March 26. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1% increase.

Excluding transportation equipment, orders rose 0.5% after falling the previous two months.

The value of core capital goods orders, a proxy for investment in equipment that excludes aircraft and military hardware, increased 0.7% last month, also after falling in January. The data isn’t adjusted for inflation.

durable goods

Core capital goods shipments, a figure that is used to help calculate equipment investment in the government’s gross domestic product report, fell 0.4%. The initial estimate of first-quarter GDP is due in late April.

The Commerce Department’s report showed bookings for commercial aircraft, which are volatile from month to month, rose nearly 25% after plummeting in January by the most since June 2020.

Boeing Co. received 15 orders in February, up from three in January. The company announced on March 25 that CEO Dave Calhoun is stepping down at the end of the year, part of a sweeping leadership overhaul as the plane maker struggles to get a handle on a safety crisis.

Bookings also increased for machinery, computers, primary metals and motor vehicles.

Recent reports have sent mixed signals for U.S. manufacturing. Figures last week showed manufacturing activity expanded by the most since 2022, but a measure of prices received rose to an almost one-year high, suggesting stubborn inflation.

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