U.S. Durable-Goods Orders Fall Sharply

Washington, Jumada II 15, 1437, Mar 24, 2016, SPA — New orders to U.S. factories for durable goods fell in February, with a key category that tracks business investment dropping by the most since December, the government reported Thursday, as the manufacturing sector continues to struggle from the effects of a strong dollar and lower oil prices.
The Commerce Department said orders for durable goods—expensive manufactured items expected to last at least three years—dropped 2.8 percent last month after a 4.2 percent jump in January.
The February decline was led by a 27.1 percent plunge in civilian aircraft orders, which contributed to a 6.2 percent drop in total transportation orders.  Demand for military aircraft and parts fell 29.2 percent, following a 97 percent surge in January.
Orders for capital goods fell 1.1 percent last month after a 1.3 percent drop in January.  Orders for primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, electronic products, electrical equipment, and appliances also fell.  Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 1.2 percent.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft—a closely watched gauge of business spending plans—fell 1.8 percent in February after advancing 3.1 percent the previous month.  It was the biggest decline in the investment category since a 3.5 percent drop in December.  The weakness in the category partly reflects trouble in the energy industry, which has suffered cutbacks and layoffs because of the big plunge in oil prices over the last year-and-a-half.
Economists say declines in durable-goods orders are evidence that the manufacturing sector remains under pressure.  Manufacturing had a difficult year in 2015, and prospects remain uncertain this year.

18:56 LOCAL TIME 15:56 GMT