WASHINGTON – U.S. orders for durable goods and products decreased in April for the first time in five months, and a key category that tracks business investment went nowhere for the second consecutive month.
The Commerce Department said Friday that durable goods orders fell 0.7 percent in April after an increase of 2.3 percent in March. The April decline was the first since orders durable goods, declined by 4.6 percent in November.
Despite the April drop, the U.s. industry has returned in the last months of a decline at the beginning of last year.
Orders for transportation equipment fell 1.2 percent last month, dragged down by a 9.2 percent drop in the volatile commercial aircraft category. Orders for military aircraft, jumped 7.1 percent. But the orders for cars, trucks and auto parts rose 0.3 percent last month after a fall in February and March.
Orders for capital goods, excluding aircraft and military equipment, were flat for the second consecutive month — a potential concern because that category provides clues about where the business is headed.
Durable goods, ranging from refrigerators to battleships, are items that are intended to be at least three years.
Overall, American manufacturing has regained momentum after the pain at the beginning of last year and at the end of 2015 due to cutbacks in the energy industry and a strong dollar, which makes U.S. products more expensive abroad. The Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers, reported earlier this month that its manufacturing index showed AMERICAN factories expand in April for the eighth consecutive month.
The Ministry of Labour says factories have added jobs for five straight months. And the Federal Reserve reported earlier that the American industry — factories, mines and utilities expanded production last month at the fastest pace in more than three years.