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LATEST US DATA

Factory orders fall unexpectedly in April

Washington

NEW orders for US-made goods fell more than expected in April, weighed down by declines in demand for transportation equipment and machinery, but the underlying trend continued to suggest strong momentum in the manufacturing sector.

Factory goods orders decreased 0.8 per cent, the Commerce Department said on Monday. Data for March was revised up to show orders rising 1.7 per cent instead of the previously reported 1.6 per cent increase.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast factory orders falling 0.5 per cent in April. Orders advanced 8.3 per cent on a year-on-year basis in April.

The monthly decline in factory orders is likely to be temporary amid reports of strong manufacturing conditions in May. A survey last week showed sentiment among manufacturers perking up in May amid a surge in new orders.

The Federal Reserve's latest "Beige Book" report described manufacturing as having "shifted into higher gear" in late April and early May. Manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 per cent of US economic activity, is being supported by strong domestic and global demand.

Orders for transportation equipment fell 6.0 per cent, pulled down by a 28.9 per cent plunge in the volatile orders for civilian aircraft. Transportation orders increased 6.9 per cent in March. Orders for motor vehicles rose 1.0 per cent in April.

Orders for machinery dropped 0.7 per cent after tumbling 3.1 per cent in March. That reflected a decline of 11.6 per cent in orders for mining, oil field and gas field machinery. Orders for industrial machinery fell 10.0 per cent.

There was also a drop in orders for computers. But orders for electrical equipment, appliances and components increased 1.8 per cent. There were increases in orders for fabricated metal products and primary metals.

The Commerce Department also confirmed that April orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, which are seen as a measure of business spending plans, increased 1.0 per cent as reported last month. Orders for these so-called core capital goods fell 1.0 per cent in February. REUTERS

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