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Economy in Brief

Total U.S. Durable Goods Orders Decrease, But Several Industries Have Sizable Gains
by Carol Stone, CBE  November 24, 2021

• Transportation and machinery orders cause decline in October total.

• Gains in primary metals and electrical equipment exceed 1% in October.

• Shipments of nondurable goods surge in October.

Manufacturers' new orders for durable goods fell 0.5% in October (+11.0% y/y) after declining 0.4% in September, which was unrevised from last month’s total. The Action Economics Forecast Survey was expecting an increase of 0.4%.

The decline in total new orders for durable goods was again concentrated in transportation, for which new orders fell 2.6% in October, especially including 17.0% in nondefense aircraft and 21.8% in defense aircraft. After declining in August and September, orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 4.8% in October. Excluding transportation, durable goods orders increased 0.5% in October (+13.4% y/y) following a 0.7% increase in September.

Nondefense capital goods orders excluding aircraft rose 0.6% in October (12.9% y/y) after gaining 1.3% in September, which was revised from 0.8% reported last month. For other industries, orders for primary metals rose 1.7% (25.1% y/y) after rising 0.9% in September. Orders for fabricated metal products were up 0.4% (16.4%) in October, the same monthly gain as in September. Machinery orders fell 0.9% in October (16.5% y/y), reversing September’s 1.3% increase. Electrical equipment & appliance orders rose 1.2% in both October (17.8% y/y) and September. Orders for computers and electronic equipment gained 0.7% (3.8% y/y), reversing a 0.2% decrease in September.

Durable goods shipments rose 1.5% in October (9.4% y/y), strengthening from 0.6% in September. As noted in last month’s discussion of this report, some advance data for nondurable goods industries are now available. These show a 2.5% surge in October shipments (16.9% y/y) after a 1.4% advance in September. Shipments in all manufacturing industries increased 2.0% (13.1% y/y) after a 1.0% increase in September.

Unfilled orders for durable goods rose 0.2% in October (5.5% y/y) following a 0.7% increase in September. Order backlogs for durable goods excluding transportation advanced 0.7% in October (15.3% y/y), following September’s 0.9% increase. New orders and unfilled orders for nondurable goods are not compiled, and that is a long-standing practice.

Inventories of durable goods were up 0.6% (8.4% y/y) in October, following a 1.0% increase in September. Inventories of nondurable goods rose 1.0% (9.6% y/y) following an 0.8% increase in September.

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 Oct Sep Aug Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
New Orders (SA, % chg) -0.5 -0.4 1.3 11.0 -13.6 3.5 5.2
    Transportation -2.6 -2.8 3.8 9.7 -35.8 13.3 1.8
   Total Excluding Transportation 0.5 0.7 0.3 11.5 -1.0 -1.4 7.0
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excluding Aircraft 0.6 1.3 0.5 11.9 1.1 -0.1 6.0
Shipments 1.5 0.6 -0.5 8.0 -6.0 -1.5 5.8
    Nondefense Capital Goods Excluding Aircraft 0.3 1.3 0.6 9.1 -0.2 0.6 6.4
Unfilled Orders 0.2 0.7 0.9 5.5 -8.4 10.4 -1.9
Inventories 0.6 1.0 0.9 8.6 0.4 5.8 4.4
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