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U.S. Durable Goods Orders Jump Amid Rebound In Aircraft Demand

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Reflecting a significant rebound in orders for transportation equipment, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing new orders for U.S. manufactured durable goods jumped by much more than expected in the month of March.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders surged up by 2.7 percent in March after tumbling by a revised 1.1 percent in February.

Economists had expected durable goods orders to climb by 0.8 percent compared to the 1.6 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

The bigger than expected rebound in durable goods orders came as orders for transportation equipment shot up by 7.0 percent in March after plunging by 2.9 percent in February.

Orders for non-defense aircraft and parts led the way higher, soaring by 31.2 percent in March following a 25.4 percent nosedive in February.

The report showed orders for motor vehicles and parts also jumped by 2.1 percent in March after coming in unchanged in the previous month.

Excluding the spike in orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose by 0.4 percent in March after edging down by a revised 0.2 percent in February.

Ex-transportation orders had been expected to inch up by 0.2 percent compared to the 0.1 percent uptick originally reported for the previous month.

Orders for computer and electronic products jumped by 2.2 percent, while orders for fabricated metal products and primary metals showed modest decreases.

The report also said orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, an indicator of business spending, surged up by 1.3 percent in March after inching up by 0.1 percent in February.

Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, noted shipments in the same category fell by 0.2 percent in March and rose by a subdued 4.2 percent annualized over the first quarter as a whole.

"That points to a similar first-quarter gain in business equipment investment, slower than the 6.6% rise seen in the fourth quarter," Pearce said.

He added, "The figures do suggest that business investment is not slowing as rapidly as some may have feared but, with global demand subdued and capacity utilization falling, we still expect business investment growth to weaken further over this year."

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