Durable goods orders slid in May on a plunge in orders for aircraft, the U.S. Commerce Department said today.
Orders totaled $243.4 billion, down $3.3 billion, or 1.3 percent, from the month before, according to a monthly report. It was the third monthly decrease in the past four months.
The biggest drag on the figures was transportation equipment, down 4.6 percent to almost $80 billion. Excluding transportation, new orders rose 0.3 percent. Excluding defense, orders declined 0.6 percent.
Within transportation, commercial aircraft and parts nosedived 28 percent in May to $5.34 billion. Also, orders for defense aircraft and parts plummeted 15 percent to $4.53 billion.
One bright spot within transportation was motorized vehicle and parts, up 0.6 percent to $60.5 billion.
Within the aerospace sector, Boeing Co. has been hit hard. Its 737 Max aircraft remains grounded following two fatal crashes that killed more than 300 people. Boeing’s timetable to get the aircraft back in the air remains uncertain.
The durable goods results will do little to relieve concern that the manufacturing economy is slowing down. Other indicators, such as the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index, have indicated expansion in the sector has lessened this year.
U.S. light-vehicle deliveries have also declined this year following four consecutive years above 17 million. A trade war between the U.S. and China may escalate in 2019’s second half, which may also adversely affect manufacturing.
Among other categories, orders for machinery rose 0.7 percent to $32.8 billion; orders for primary metals advanced 0.4 percent to $20.6 billion; and orders for fabricated metal products declined 0.4 percent to $33.3 billion.