The Economy

Durable Goods Hit Three-Year High in June

The 6.5% gain was driven by the aircraft industry but excluding planes and autos, orders rose only 0.2%.
Matthew HellerJuly 28, 2017

Orders for durable goods manufactured by U.S. companies soared to a three-year high in June after two straight monthly drops but a closely watched proxy for business spending plans dropped for the first time since December.

The Commerce Department said orders for long-lasting goods rose 6.5%, easily beating economists’ forecasts of a 5.3% increase.

The airline industry performed particularly well, with Boeing picking up nearly 200 orders for new jets after the annual airshow in Paris. But excluding planes and automobiles, orders rose a scant 0.2%, with bookings for computers and electrical equipment declining.

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Additionally, core capital goods orders, which economists watch as a proxy for business spending plans, slipped 0.1% last month, suggesting equipment spending could moderate in the months ahead. The decline followed a 0.7% jump in May, which was the biggest gain since January.

“The increase in equipment spending has mostly been driven by the energy sector, where oil and gas drilling has increased significantly after declining in the aftermath of the collapse in crude oil prices,” Reuters noted.

“Momentum is, however, slowing as drilling activity cools,” it added.

According to MarketWatch, orders and investment “surged earlier in the year, partly on anticipation that a pro-business Trump administration would offer tax and regulatory relief. Demand appears to have tapered off a bit, however, as the White House’s agenda gets bogged down in Washington.”

Investment, though, is still running stronger than it has in years, with core orders having risen 5.6% in the past 12 months, the fastest rate since 2012.

Other data released on Thursday showed a sharp narrowing in the goods trade deficit in June and increases in both retail and wholesale inventories.

“The bullish reports came on the eve of the government’s advance second-quarter gross domestic product estimate on Friday, prompting economists to raise their forecasts to as high as a 3.5 percent annualized rate,” Reuters said.

The economy grew at a 1.4% pace in the first quarter.

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