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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Recover as Aircraft Rebounds
by Carol Stone, CBE  December 22, 2017

New orders for durable goods rebounded somewhat in November, 1.3% (8.2% y/y), after October's 0.4% decline; that was revised from -1.2% reported initially. Market expectations, evidenced in the Action Economics Forecast Survey, had looked for a 2.0% jump from the initial reading..

The transportation sector was, as often happens, the prime mover, with those new orders jumping 4.2% (10.7% y/y) after a 3.9% fall in October. Nondefense aircraft & parts orders gained 14.5% in November to $12.5 billion, more than 3x their November 2016 amount, after their 15.8% fall the month before. Motor vehicle & parts orders rose 1.4% (5.6% y/y). Excluding the transportation sector, durable goods new orders edged down 0.1% (7.0% y/y), after 1.3% gains in each October and September.

Nondefense capital goods orders also reflected the November rebound in aircraft, as they rose 2.6% (22.6% y/y) following a drop of 3.0% in October. Excluding aircraft, that sector's orders slipped 0.1% (+8.1% y/y) after an upwardly revised 0.8% rise in October.

Electrical equipment orders rose 0.7% (0.5% y/y) last month after October's 1.0% gain. Machinery orders reversed some of their October strength, as they fell 1.1% (8.8% y/y) following +2.6% in that earlier month. Orders for computers & electronic products also eased, 0.3% (also 8.8% y/y), but that followed a sizable 1.8% advance in October. Primary metals orders rose 0.8% (10.0% y/y) after a 2.1% gain the month before, and orders for fabricated metals decreased 0.3% (+6.3% y/y) following -0.5% in October.

Shipments of durable goods gained 1.0% (6.7% y/y) last month after a 0.5% rise. Shipments outside of the transportation sector edged higher 0.2% (6.7% y/y) after two months of strong increase.

Unfilled orders for durable goods again hardly moved, edging up 0.1% (0.9% y/y) in November after October's 0.05% rise. Outside the transportation sector, order backlogs rose 0.4% (4.5% y/y) following a slightly revised 0.6% in October. Durable goods inventories rose 0.2% (3.6% y/y), the same size move as in October. Excluding transportation, inventories were up 0.4% (5.5% y/y) after a 0.3% 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 Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2016 2015 2014
New Orders (SA, %) 1.3 -0.4 2.4 8.2 -1.7 -4.6 4.7
  Transportation 4.2 -3.9 4.7 10.7 -3.4 -6.2 8.2
Total Excluding Transportation -0.1 1.3 1.3 7.0 -0.7 -3.6 2.9
  Nondefense Capital Goods 2.6 -3.0 7.3 22.6 -7.1 -11.0 0.9
    Excluding Aircraft -0.1 0.8 2.3 8.1 -4.6 -4.3 0.3
Shipments 1.0 0.5 1.2 6.7 -1.6 -0.6 3.8
Unfilled Orders 0.1 0.0 0.3 0.9 -1.7 -2.0 8.3
Inventories 0.2 0.1 0.6 3.6 -0.7 1.6 4.7
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