WASHINGTON - For April, new orders for durable goods rose 0.6 percent to $217.9 billion, the Census Bureau said Thursday.
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Shipments rose 1.9 percent to $213.1 billion. Unfilled orders increased 1.8 percent to $718.6 billion, marking its highest level since 1992.
Inventories increased 0.5 percent to $313 billion.
Nondefense new orders for capital goods slipped 0.8 percent to $77.6 billion. Defense new orders for capital goods edged up 0.8 percent to $7.7 billion.
“The 0.6 percent increase in durable goods orders in April and even stronger 1.2 percent gain in nondefense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft, is welcome news, particularly since the April gain occurred after a surge in orders in March,” said Daniel J. Meckstroth, Chief Economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI. “The report shows that the manufacturing sector is recovering from a pronounced decline in business activity late last year. Orders for computers, construction equipment, and heavy duty trucks were especially weak in that period. Because of this U-shaped pattern, machinery orders in the first four months of this year are below the same period last year.
“It appears that the worst of the housing collapse is behind us, export growth has returned, and the motor vehicle inventory problem has been corrected,” he added. “We expect moderate growth in the manufacturing sector during the remainder of the year.”