March’s surge in core capital goods orders, however, suggests a pickup in business spending in the months ahead.
It also implies some stabilization in manufacturing activity, which has been squeezed by the ebbing stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package and supply chain disruptions caused by Washington’s trade war with China.
In March, orders for machinery rose 0.3% after declining 0.7% in February. Orders for computers and electronic products soared 2.2%. There were also increases in orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components. But orders for primary metals fell, as did those for fabricated metal products.
Overall orders for durable goods, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, shot up 2.7% in March after declining 1.1% in the prior month. Orders for transportation equipment rebounded 7.0% after falling 2.9% in February.
Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 2.1% in March. Orders for non-defense aircraft jumped 31.2% after plunging 25.4% in February.
Boeing reported on its website that it received 44 aircraft orders, up from only five in February. There were no orders booked for its troubled 737 Max aircraft. Boeing’s fastest-selling 737 Max jet was grounded in March after two fatal plane crashes in five months.
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