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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Turn Up, Helped by Machinery & Computers
by Carol Stone October 27, 2004

September durable goods orders continued to be pushed around by the aircraft sector. Orders in that volatile industry fell back for a second month after their spike in June and July. Total durable goods orders turned up 0.2% following August's 0.6% fall; machinery and high tech equipment were mainly responsible for the advance.

Nondefense capital goods orders managed a 0.6% increase in September. Excluding the decline in commercial aircraft, they were up a notable 2.6%. This was the fourth consecutive monthly gain in that segment and extended a generally rising trend that began early in 2003.

Shipments, after a good gain of 1.9% in August, dropped back 1.2% last month. The distribution was mixed among industries and categories. With the decline in shipments, the backlog of unfilled orders rose 0.7%. A simple ratio of the backlog to shipments in industries that have unfilled orders stands at almost 4.0 months. This is not high by recent standards, but indicates a stabilization after a two-and-a-half year downtrend.

Inventories of durable goods rose 0.3% (6.3% y/y) moderating further after July's 1.1% spike and August's sizable 0.8% rise.

NAICS Classification Sept Aug July Y/Y 2003 2002 2001
Durable Goods Orders 0.2% -0.6% 1.9% 9.3% 3.0% -1.9% -10.6%
Nondefense Capital Goods 0.6% -7.2% 9.3% 8.5% 6.4% -7.4% -15.8%
Excluding Aircraft 2.6% 0.3% 0.6% 7.5% 2.8% -6.4% -10.5%
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