New orders for U.S.-made durable goods likely fell in February aided by a sharp decline in civilian aircraft orders, according to a Reuters poll

The median forecast of 73 economists showed orders for durables, goods lasting three years or more, dropped for the seventh straight month, to 2.0 percent in February after a 4.5 percent January fall.

Stripping out transportation orders -- which are heavily skewed by aircraft -- new orders for durables are expected to fall 2.0 percent after a 3.0 percent decline in January.

In a sign investment growth slowed further, nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft -- a key component of the monthly report seen as a gauge of business spending -- likely fell 2.3 percent in February after a 5.7 percent January drop.

The expected decline in aircraft orders comes as U.S. plane maker Boeing Co reported that it won orders for four aircraft during February -- down from 18 orders for January.

And industry analysts say there are no signs the planemaker will soon return to the record number of orders it enjoyed before the economic downturn as the number of cancellations exceeded orders, so far this year.

The Commerce Department will release the report at 8:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

The following is a selection of comments from economists:


Forecast: -2.5 percent

Companies across industries continue to scale back on costs and production, waiting for any sign of a sustainable recovery. We have seen a virtual collapse in demand, both in the US and overseas. As a result, output has not been slashed quickly enough. The decline in production and inventories has not been able to keep up with the decline in sales.


Forecast: -0.5 percent

We expect orders and shipments of nondefense excluding aircraft (core) capital goods will have fallen further in February. A weighted index of capital spending plans from regional Fed surveys hit a new cycle low in the month, and the continued rise in jobless claims show business retrenchment remains fierce despite evidence that household spending has firmed.


Forecast: -0.5 percent

The fall in durable goods orders in February could have been limited by a rebound in automotive bookings (corresponding with the sharp pickup in motor vehicle production in the month, following extended plant shutdowns in January).


Forecast: -4.1 percent

Driven by slowing business and consumer demand, orders for durable goods could fall 4.1 percent in February. Vehicles and parts will likely continue to post significant declines. With corporate profits weakening and credit conditions exceptionally tight, business fixed investments will likely decline in the coming quarters. We do not expect business spending to add to GDP until late 2010.

(Polling by Bangalore Polling Unit)

(Reporting by Nancy Waitz. Editing by Walker Simon)