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US Manufactured Goods Post Strong March

FILE: Employees work on solar panels at the QCells solar energy manufacturing factory in Dalton, Georgia. Taken March 2, 2023.

WASHINGTON - Orders of big-ticket manufactured items in the US jumped in March following a two-month slump, buoyed by a sharp rise in transportation goods, according to US government data released Wednesday.

Manufactured durable goods rose by 3.2 percent in March to $276.4 billion, the Commerce Department announced in a statement.

This was well above the median forecast of 0.5 percent in a MarketWatch survey of economists.

The rise was fueled by a 9.1 percent rise in transportation equipment, and a 3.5 percent increase in non-defense goods.

New orders of nondefense aircraft and computers also rose last month. "Overall durable goods orders and ex-transportation orders were stronger than expected in March but core capex orders and shipments remained weak overall," Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics said in a statement.

Farooqi warned that there were "mounting downside risks around the outlook given the hurdles companies are facing from higher borrowing costs and an unclear growth trajectory going forward."

Wednesday's figures mark a sharp contrast with the declines seen in the last two months. Durable goods recorded a large drop in January on the back of slowing demand for aircraft. The bad news continued in February with a further slump recorded due to a decline in defense aircraft and parts.