Thursday, June 26, 2003

Durable-goods orders decrease

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - America's manufacturers saw demand for their products dip in May for the second straight month, a fresh sign of the industry's struggles to get back on sure footing.

The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that orders to U.S. factories for durable goods - manufactured products such as cars and appliances expected to last at least three years - fell by 0.3 percent in May from the previous month. That followed a steeper decline of 2.4 percent from March to April.

May's durable-goods performance was considerably weaker than economists were forecasting. They were predicting orders to go up by a solid 1 percent.

The weakness in May was fairly broadbased, with orders for cars, computers and machinery all registering declines.

Manufacturing has been an Achilles heel in the national economy's ability to stage a full recovery. The sector has throttled back production and slashed payrolls in response to lackluster demand both at home and overseas, where countries are struggling with a global economic slump.

At the same time, manufacturers have to compete against a flood of imported goods flowing into the United States.

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