While the U.S. Department of Commerce's report on durable goods showed a sharp decline in December by $10.3 billion or 4.3% to $229.3 billion, automotive sales finished up a strong 8%.
November's new orders for manufactured durable goods had ticked up 2.6%, which made Decembers decrease a bit surprising. Excluding transportation, new orders decreased 1.6%, and excluding defense, new orders decreased 3.7%. Transportation equipment led the decrease, $7.7 billion or 9.5% to $73.1 billion, with nondefense aircraft and parts leading the decrease, down $3.8 billion.
Analysts for the automotive industry estimated that Americans bought around 1.4 million new cars and trucks in December, which means the industry will have had its fourth-best month of the year. Analysts are projecting vehicle sales of about 15.6 million in 2013.