US factory orders gain for fourth straight month

WASHINGTON (AFP) - New orders for US manufactured goods rose a fourth consecutive month, with civilian aircraft orders nearly doubling, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday (Dec 6).

Orders rose a solid 2.7 per cent to US$469.4 billion (S$666 billion), considerably faster than the pace of the prior two months and surpassing an analyst consensus forecast, which had called for a 2.5 per cent increase.

For the first 10 months of the year, however, orders were 2.0 per cent lower than the same period in 2015.

Excluding the defense sector, however, the October increase would have been an even higher 2.9 per cent. But without the transportation sector, which has also risen four months in a row, the increase would have been only 0.8 per cent, according to the department.

Orders for civilian aircraft and parts jumped 93.8 per cent to US$21.8 billion, reflecting in part the Boeing deal to sell 14 freighters to shipping giant UPS.

But mining and oilfield machinery sank 15 per cent to US$792 million, reflecting the recent slump in new oilfield activity on sharply reduced crude prices.

Orders for cars, parts and trailers fell 0.7 per cent to US$28.8 billion but defense aircraft orders saw a sharp 32.5 per cent increase to US$3.7 billion.