US Factory Orders Rise, but Business Equipment Spending Slowing
WASHINGTON—New orders for U.S.-made goods rose more than expected in March, boosted by strong demand for transportation equipment and a range of other products, but there are signs that business spending on equipment is slowing, the Commerce Department said last week. Factory goods orders rose 1.6 percent, Data for February was revised up to show orders jumping 1.6 percent instead of the previously reported 1.2 percent increase.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders increasing 1.4 percent in March. Orders rose 7.7 percent on a year-on-year basis in March. Transportation equipment orders increased 7.6 percent, lifted by a 44.5 percent jump in the volatile orders for civilian aircraft. Transportation orders rose 8.9 percent in February. Orders for machinery fell 1.9 percent, the largest drop since April 2016, after rising 0.6 percent in February.
Orders for mining, oil field and gas field machinery surged 2.6 percent. Orders for motor vehicles fell 1.0 percent, the biggest drop since last July. Orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components rose 0.6 percent while bookings for computers advanced 1.0 percent.
Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of U.S. economic activity, is being supported by strong domestic and global demand. But a shortage of skilled workers and rising commodity prices after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are starting to impact production.