New orders for manufactured durable goods in January fell 5.2% to $217 billion, according to a Commerce Department report [link opens in PDF] released today. Following a revised 3.7% December increase, this newest report signals the end of four straight months of new order improvements.


Market analysts had expected a decrease of 4%. 

Transportation equipment, down three of the last four months, drove the decrease. After improving 9.9% in December, new orders for transportation goods fell nearly 20% in January. Excluding transportation costs, new orders continued to improve by 1.9% for January, higher than both December's 1% rise and analysts' 0.2% prediction.

Transportation also pushed shipments and unfilled orders down (1.2% and 0.2%, respectively) after four consecutive monthly increases.

Year-to-date, communication equipment accounts for the largest improvement in new orders, up 13.1%. On the other end of the spectrum, new orders for nondefense aircrafts and parts are down 62.3%.

Inventories of manufactured durable goods, up 15 of the last 16 months, increased $0.7 billion, or 0.2%, in January, to $374.8 billion. This increase followed a 0.1% December decrease. Transportation equipment drove this most recent month-to-month increase also.