Orders for long-lasting goods resumed growth in March as the U.S. recovery stoked manufacturing demand that has been building since last fall.
New orders for durable goods—products designed to last at least three years, such as computers and machinery—increased 0.5% to a seasonally adjusted $256.3 billion in March when compared with February, the Commerce Department said Monday.
Orders have increased 10 out of the last 11 months. Low business and retail inventories have translated to increased demand for manufacturers for much of the past year. But supply-chain issues continue to constrain production and delay some shipments.
“Overall, the durable-goods sector is growing rapidly, with significant gains since declining sharply last spring due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Chad Moutray, chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers. Mr. Moutray noted overall goods orders have jumped 4.1% over the past 13 months, or 10.8%, with transportation equipment excluded.
Manufacturers in purchasing managers surveys have in recent weeks reported a continued upswing in activity despite struggles to source raw materials.
Consumer spending, boosted by government stimulus payments and the rising number of Covid-19 vaccinations, has been gaining ground in recent months. That has especially helped restaurants, hotels and airlines, some of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
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New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft—so-called core capital-goods orders, a closely watched proxy for business investment—rose 0.9% in March from the previous month. That was up from a 0.8% decline the previous month.
Excluding transportation, a category that can be particularly volatile, overall durable-goods orders increased 1.6% in March. Growth was slowed by a decline in aircraft orders, with new orders for nondefense aircraft and parts dropping 46.9%.
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