Broad Gains in Durables Orders Point to Stronger U.S. Growth

Electronic Product
A worker tests electronic control boards before installation in blenders at the K-Tec Inc. Blendtec factory in Orem, Utah. Photographer: George Frey/Bloomberg

The U.S. economy just got dealt a royal flush.

All seven major components of durable goods orders rose in March for the first time since April 2013, helping boost total bookings by a greater-than-forecast 2.6 percent, Commerce Department figures showed today. It marked only the fifth instance since 2000 that all major categories increased in any one month.

Orders for computers and electronic products led the advance last month, rising 5.7 percent in the biggest gain since November 2010 as bookings for communications equipment increased. Transportation equipment orders also rose in March, boosted by an 8.6 percent surge in bookings for commercial aircraft.

While the figures won’t help a first quarter plagued by harsh weather and weak demand, they reinforce the prospect that growth will accelerate in the months to come, said Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial in New York.

“How broad-based the gains were is really important -- it’s fairly rare in the current economy,” Morelock said. “With orders providing that momentum going into the second quarter, the hope is that shipments will follow and business investment will contribute a little bit more to growth than it has been.”

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