U.S. durable goods orders printed down 2.6% in a report that came in about as expected.

December marked a fifth month of decline in durables orders. Orders excluding transportation fell 3.6% and, excluding military orders, declined 4.9% during the month, also weak.

Over the year new orders printed down 5.7% in 2008 after a 1.3% gain in 2007, and rose 6.2% in 2006, illustrating that manufacturing slowed substantially. The Commerce Department press officer said this was the biggest drop since the recession year of 2001, when orders fell a record 10.7%.

There were broad drops across categories in December, including primary metals down 6.9%, machinery down 5.0%, and computers down 7.2%. Exceptions were transportation at plus-0.6% on the back of a 16.4% surge in military aircraft orders, and electrical equipment at a 9.4% increase.

— Market News International

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