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Economy in Brief

Mixed U.S. Durable Goods Report
by Gerald D. Cohen  March 13, 2019

New orders for durable goods unexpectedly rose 0.4% (8.4% year-on-year) during January following small offsetting revisions in November and December. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a 0.8% decline in January. A 13.1% jump in volatile aircraft orders (34.4% y/y) drove the gain; orders for motor vehicles decreased 1.0% (+9.7% y/y). Excluding the transportation sector, durable goods bookings edged down 0.1% (+4.5% y/y). Nondefense capital goods orders less aircraft, which is a forward-looking indicator of capital spending, gained 0.8% (4.1% y/y), following declines in the previous two months. In the fourth quarter, inflation-adjusted nonresidential fixed investment grew at a 6.2% annual rate (7.2% y/y).

Machinery orders increased 1.4% in January (3.4% y/y). Electrical equipment rose 1.7% (6.6% y/y), while fabricated metals were unchanged (7.0% y/y). Orders for primary metals fell 1.5% (+8.6% y/y) and computers declined 1.3% (+5.7% y/y).

Shipments of durable goods decreased 0.5% during January (+6.0% y/y) following a slightly downwardly-revised 0.7% gain. Excluding the transportation sector, shipments were unchanged (4.3% y/y). Nondefense capital goods shipments excluding aircraft grew 0.8% (4.4% y/y).

Unfilled orders for durable goods edged up 0.1% (4.3% y/y); excluding transportation, order backlogs also grew 0.1% (4.7% y/y). Inventories of durable goods increased 0.4% (4.9% y/y). Excluding transportation, inventories gained 0.2% (5.5% y/y).

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 Jan Dec Nov Jan Y/Y 2018 2017 2016
New Orders (SA, % chg) 0.4 1.3 0.9 8.4 7.8 5.4 -1.7
  Transportation 1.2 3.1 3.1 16.1 9.6 3.4 -0.7
Total Excluding Transportation -0.1 0.3 -0.2 4.5 6.8 6.5 -2.3
  Nondefense Capital Goods 2.5 4.4 0.2 7.3 5.6 9.1 -5.8
    Excluding Aircraft 0.8 -0.9 -1.1 4.1 5.9 6.7 -4.5
Shipments -0.5 0.7 1.0 6.0 7.0 4.0 -2.4
Unfilled Orders 0.1 -0.1 -0.2 4.3 3.8 2.0 -1.2
Inventories 0.4 0.3 0.5 4.9 4.7 4.6 -3.0
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