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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Retreat in September
by Carol Stone, CBE  October 27, 2021

• Shipments and inventories of nondurable goods now included in advance report.

• Transportation orders down, reversing August increase.

• Order backlogs continue to grow.

Manufacturers' new orders for durable goods fell 0.4% in September (+15.3% y/y) following an increase of 1.3% in August, revised from 1.8% reported a month ago. The Action Economics Forecast Survey actually expected a 1.1% decline.

This month, for the first time, the advance report on durable goods industries is augmented by additional information on shipments and inventories for several nondurable goods industries. We note some of these newly available data where relevant to the discussion.

The decline in total new orders for durable goods largely represented a reversal of the gain in August's orders, particularly in transportation. Total transportation orders fell 2.3% in September, especially including 27.9% in nondefense aircraft and 2.9% in motor vehicles and parts. Defense aircraft orders, in contrast, more than doubled in the month, rising 104.3% (153.9% y/y) following a 13.2% decline in August. Excluding transportation, durable goods orders increased 0.4% in September (+14.6% y/y) following a 0.3% increase in August.

Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft improved 0.8% in September (13.2% y/y) after gaining 0.5% in August, which was basically unrevised. Elsewhere in the report, orders were mixed. Orders for primary metals rose 0.6% (25.0% y/y) after a 1.9% decline in August. Orders for fabricated metal products were up 0.7% (18.8%) in September after August's 2.4% increase. Machinery orders rebounded 1.1% in September (18.6% y/y), reversing August's 0.9% decline. Electrical equipment & appliance orders fell 0.5% (16.1% y/y) after a 1.6% surge in August. Orders for computers and electronic equipment also fell, losing 0.3% (+6.4% y/y) after August's 1.2% gain.

Durable goods shipments rose 0.4% in September (11.7% y/y) after falling 0.5% during August. Available for the first time in this month's advance report, shipments by nondurable goods industries were up 0.8% in the latest month, September (14.4% y/y), following August's 0.7% increase.

Unfilled orders for durable goods rose 0.7% in September (4.7% y/y) following a 0.9% increase in August. Order backlogs for durable goods excluding transportation advanced 0.9% in September (15.2% y/y), following August's 1.1% increase and continuing to reflect supply-chain disruptions. New orders and unfilled orders for nondurable goods are not compiled, and that is a long-standing practice.

Inventories of durable goods were up 0.9% (7.9% y/y) in September, the same amount as in August. Inventories of nondurable goods rose 0.7% (8.6% y/y) following August's 0.4% increase. .

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

Durable Goods NAICS Classification Sep Aug Jul Y/Y % 2020 2019 2018
New Orders (SA, % chg) -0.4 1.3 0.5 14.4 -13.6 3.5 5.2
    Transportation -2.3 3.8 -0.4 13.7 -35.8 13.3 1.8
  Total Excluding Transportation 0.4 0.3 0.8 14.7 -1.0 -1.4 7.0
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excl. Aircraft 0.8 0.5 0.3 12.8 1.1 -0.1 6.0
Shipments 0.4 -0.5 2.0 9.8 -6.0 -1.5 5.8
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excl. Aircraft 1.4 0.6 0.9 12.4 -0.2 0.6 6.4
Unfilled Orders 0.7 0.9 0.5 4.9 -8.4 10.4 -1.9
Inventories 0.9 0.9 0.8 8.0 0.4 5.8 4.4
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