US orders for durable goods slip 0.2% in January

Business

In this Jan. 27, 2020 photo snow blowers are lined up at a Home Depot store location in Boston. On Thursday, Feb. 27, the Commerce Department releases its January report on durable goods. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods dipped in January, pulled down by decreased demand for cars, auto parts and military aircraft.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that orders for durable goods slipped 0.2% last month after climbing 2.9% in December. Excluding volatile transportation orders, durable goods orders rose 0.9%, fastest growth since April 2018.

Economists had expected a bigger drop in overall orders for durable goods, which are items such as appliances and industrial machinery meant to last at least three years.

Over the past year, the orders are down 2.3% and are flat excluding transportation.

American industry has been hobbled over the past year by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China and a global economy that looked fragile even before being hit by fallout from a fast-moving coronavirus outbreak.

The numbers have been especially volatile in recent months because of Boeing’s decision to suspend production of its troubled 737 Max airliner. Orders for civilian aircraft surged 346.2% in January after dropping 66.7% in December.

Orders for military aircraft plunged 19.6% last month, and orders for cars and auto parts slid 0.8%. Excluding orders for military goods, orders climbed 3.6%, most since June 2017.

Orders for computers were up 8% and orders for machinery were up 2.1%.

A category that tracks business investment — orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft — rose 1.1% in January after falling December and being flat in November.

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