Economic Report: Durable-goods orders fall 17.2% in April vs. forecasts for 18.2% drop

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Orders for durable goods plunged 17.2% in April, the government said Thursday, offering a fresh sign of how the coronavirus crisis has hammered the U.S. economy.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a tumble of 18.2%.

A key measure of business investment known as core orders fell 5.8% vs. forecasts for a decline of 15.4%. These orders exclude defense and transportation.

Related:The economy is finally recovering from the coronavirus, but the ill-effects aren’t going away for a long time

In March, durable-goods orders plunged 14.7%, according to revised figures, while core orders slipped by only 0.1%.

The big picture: The spread of the coronavirus causing the disease COVID-19 has been forcing people to stay home and worry about their jobs, rather than make purchases of expensive goods.

The decline in durable-goods orders last month was the second largest that the government has ever recorded since it began tracking such orders in the early 1990s.

The only other time the U.S. suffered a bigger drop was in August 2014, when they fell 18% because of an unusually large decline in orders for Boeing passenger planes. Boeing had gotten a huge number of orders just the month before.

Market reaction: Futures for the Dow industrials YM00, +0.75% and S&P 500 ES00, +0.20% were higher on Thursday morning. U.S. stocks SPX, +1.48% DJIA, +2.21% are trading well below their February peaks after the coronavirus pandemic forced the shutdown of businesses and travel, but they have rallied from their March lows.

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