US durable goods fall in October on weak aircraft sales

Washington (AFP) –


Declining aircraft sales brought October's US durable goods orders to their lowest pace in four months, while a manufacturing sector tied to the oil industry also swung low, official data showed Wednesday.

Sales of military items likewise weighed on the monthly results but autos, metals and computers posted slight gains. The result could point to more modest GDP growth in the final quarter of 2017.

Total orders for big-ticket manufactured goods fell 1.2 percent for the month to $236 billion, according to the Commerce Department.

The result surprised economists, who had instead been expecting a 0.4 percent increase.

So far in 2017, orders are up 4.9 percent over the same period last year.

Orders for civilian aircraft fell 18.6 percent and defense aircraft were down 11.3 percent. Sales of cars and light trucks, which have struggled to keep pace this year after a record 2016, rose 1.7 percent for the month.

But excluding the highly volatile transportation sector, which sees big swings from month to month, orders had their fourth straight monthly increase, gaining 0.4 percent on rising sales of communications equipment, electrical appliances, machinery and primary metals.

Non-defense capital goods, which can reflect the needs of oil producers and refiners and change with the price of oil, saw their biggest drop in more than a year, falling 0.5 percent.