Orders for U.S. equipment stall as companies curb spending

Capital Goods

Today’s estimate of orders for capital goods excluding aircraft and military equipment was up from an unchanged reading reported last week.

Shipments of those goods, used in calculating gross domestic product, decreased 0.2 percent, less than the previously projected decline of 0.3 percent.

Factory inventories climbed 0.6 percent in September for a second month, today’s report showed. Manufacturers had enough goods on hand to last 1.28 months at the current sales pace, the same as in August.

A report yesterday showed manufacturing is stabilizing after a mid-year slowdown. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index climbed to a five-month high of 51.7 in October, the Tempe, Arizona-based group said.

Sales Forecasts

Some companies are still trying to adjust to a slackening in demand. Caterpillar, the world’s largest maker of construction and mining equipment, projected sales growth for 2013 that would be slower than in the previous three years as the global economy decelerates. Production across much of the company has been reduced, with temporary shutdowns and dismissals to help work through excess stockpiles, it said.

“We’re already taking actions to lower production to deal with the inventory and we’re ready to do more if we need to,” Michael DeWalt, director of investor relations at Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar, said on an Oct. 22 conference call.

General Electric, Parker Hannifin Corp., and Honeywell International Inc. are among other industrial companies that have said they’ve been hurt by weak demand.

Bloomberg News

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