Durable Goods Orders Tumble 4.8 Percent in April

New orders for U.S.-made durable goods tumbled an unexpectedly large 4.8 percent in April on drops in orders for civilian aircraft and computer and electronic products, a government report showed Wednesday.

Even when transportation orders were stripped out, orders for goods meant to last three years or longer unexpectedly fell 1.1 percent.

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Analysts in a Reuters poll had forecast a 0.5 percent decline in durable goods orders on weaker aircraft buying, but were anticipating a 0.5 percent gain when transportation orders were stripped out.

April's overall drop follows an upwardly revised 6.6 percent surge in the notoriously volatile orders number in March.

In a potentially positive sign for future production, unfilled orders for durable goods rose $9.3 billion, or 1.5 percent to the highest level since the data have been gathered in current form beginning in 1992. Unfilled orders have climbed in 11 of the last 12 months.

Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, viewed as a proxy for business spending, dropped a larger-than-expected 1.7 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a 0.8 percent decline in this number.

Transportation equipment orders fell 12.7 percent, the biggest drop since January. Civilian aircraft and parts orders, which fluctuate widely month-to-month, slid 32.2 percent after a 67.7 percent gain in March.

Computers and electronic products orders plunged 10.4 percent, the largest decline since July 2000. Communications equipment orders plummeted by 27.4 percent, the heftiest drop since November 2004.

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