Feb. 28, 2005 -- After two month of gains, orders for big-ticket manufactured goods dipped in January, mostly due to decline in aircraft orders, reported the Commerce Department Thursday.

Demand for items expected to last three or more years, or durable goods, fell 0.9% to $200.4 billion in January after gaining 1.4 % in December and 2.0% in November.

Much of the decline was attributed to a 5.3% dip in orders for transportation goods, most notably cars and airplanes, which fell 3.8% and 27.1% respectively. Because orders for aircraft are so volatile, many economists extract orders for transportation goods from their analysis. Excluding transportation goods, orders for durable goods rose 0.8% in January.

In a sign that business spending is healthy, orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft rose 2.9%, slightly less than in December, when orders rose 3.3%.

Inventories rose 0.9% in January, raising conerns that inventories are accumulating at a faster rate than durable orders.

In other economic news, initial jobless claims rose 9,000 to 312,000 for the week ending February 19th, reported the Department of Labor. The four-week moving average is at 308,750, its lowest level since late 2000.