U.S. April Factory Orders Drop Biggest in 17 months
Jun 6, 2003
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New orders for U.S. factory goods posted their largest drop in 17 months in April, the U.S. government said in a report showing declines in many sectors and painting a far worse picture of manufacturing than expected. Orders sank 2.9 percent in April, the biggest fall since November 2001, the Commerce Department said, after rising 2.1 percent in March. Analysts had expected a drop of 1.5 percent. The report showed sharp falls in demand for machinery, transportation, and electrical equipment. Machinery orders were down 4.7 percent, demand for transport equipment tumbled 5.1 percent, and orders for electrical products fell 1.9 percent. Orders for computers and electronics rose a modest 0.3 percent, but that followed a much faster 2.4 percent increase the previous month. Factory orders excluding transportation fell 2.4 percent, the largest decline since September 2001. Although the transport category fell as a whole, orders of non-defense aircraft and parts surged 48.6 percent. The inventory-to-shipments ratio, which measures the amount of time it would take to use up stocks at the current pace of shipments, rose to 1.35 months from 1.32 months in March. (Reuters)

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