Durable Goods, New Homes Take Hit in February

Orders for business equipment key larger-than-expected drop
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2008 11:21 AM CDT
Chart shows new orders of durable goods for the past 13 months.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Durable goods took an unexpected tumble in February, the Commerce Department announced today, with a 1.7% drop headlining a raft of bad economic news. Analysts expected a 0.8% increase. “Businesses definitely have shown they are beginning to retrench,” one analyst told Bloomberg. “Demand is weakening.” New-home sales, meanwhile, fell 1.8% to a 13-year low, despite a median-price drop to $244,100.

Manufacturing also contracted for a fourth consecutive month in March, according to the Philadelphia Fed’s index. The durables report likewise pointed to slowing business spending. Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 2.6%, as shipments dropped 2.1%. The shipment figure is a key component in US GDP calculations. Orders for machinery fell 13.3%, and defense-related orders fell 10.1%.