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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Rebound; Capital Goods Orders Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  March 23, 2018

New orders for durable goods increased 3.1% (8.9% y/y) during February following a 3.5% January decline, revised from -3.7%. Expectations had been for a 1.6% rise in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Transportation sector orders continued to provide volatility to the overall orders figure. Last month's 7.1% increase (10.6% y/y) followed a 9.8% decline. Aircraft orders jumped 27.9% after a one-third January drop. Civilian aircraft orders rose 25.5%, and defense aircraft bookings gained 37.7%. Also adding volatility was a 1.6% rise (6.2% y/y) in motor vehicle orders which followed a 0.1% uptick.

Orders excluding the transportation sector increased 1.2% (8.1% y/y) after a 0.2% easing. Orders for primary metals increased 2.7% (12.0% y/y) after a 0.3% rise, and fabricated metals orders improved a steady 0.8% (12.9% y/y). Electrical equipment, appliance & component orders jumped 2.6% (1.1% y/y), after ticking 0.1% higher. Machinery orders strengthened 1.6% (9.6% y/y) after a 0.2% rise. A 0.2% slip (+6.5% y/y) in computer & electronic product orders was led by an 8.4% decline (-6.3% y/y) in communications equipment orders. Computer orders fell 1.1% (-11.7% y/y), the third decline in four months.

In the capital goods sector, orders increased 5.8% (13.0% y/y) after a 4.7% decline. Nondefense capital goods orders gained 4.5% (9.9% y/y) as orders excluding aircraft & parts improved 1.8% (8.0% y/y), after two months of slight decline. Defense aircraft orders strengthened by 16.5% (42.0% y/y), following a 26.4% shortfall.

Shipments of durable goods improved 0.9% (6.8% y/y), following two months of 0.5% rise. Excluding transportation, shipments rose 1.0% (7.4% y/y) after a 0.3% gain.

Unfilled orders for durable goods edged 0.2% (2.3% y/y) after a 0.3% drop. Backlogs of orders excluding transportation rose 0.2% (4.6% y/y) following a 0.1% uptick.

Inventories of durable goods gained 0.4% (4.5% y/y) for the second straight month. Inventories excluding the transportation sector increased 0.3% (5.6% y/y) and repeated January's rise.

The durable goods figures are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics consensus forecast figure is in the AS1REPNA database.

Durable Goods NAICS Classification Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
New Orders (SA, % chg) 3.1 -3.5 2.7 8.9 5.9 -1.7 -4.6
  Transportation 7.1 -9.8 6.6 10.6 4.9 -3.4 -6.2
Total Excluding Transportation 1.2 -0.2 0.8 8.1 6.5 -0.7 -3.6
  Nondefense Capital Goods 4.5 -1.1 -0.3 9.9 7.8 -7.1 -11.0
    Excluding Aircraft 1.8 -0.4 -0.5 8.0 5.3 -4.6 -4.3
Shipments 0.9 0.5 0.5 6.8 4.3 -1.6 -0.6
Unfilled Orders 0.2 -0.3 0.6 2.3 1.9 -1.7 -2.0
Inventories 0.4 0.4 0.5 4.5 4.1 -0.7 1.6
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