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Economy in Brief

U.S. Durable Goods Orders Strengthen; Aircraft Orders Surge
by Tom Moeller  April 26, 2018

New orders for durable goods increased 2.6% (9.5% y/y) during March following a 3.5% February rise, revised from 3.1%. Expectations had been for a 1.5% rise in the Action Economics Forecast Survey.

Stronger orders for transportation equipment provided the strength to the overall orders figure. They rose 7.6% (15.0% y/y) following an 8.9% gain. Aircraft orders surged 34.3%, about the same as in February. Civilian aircraft orders strengthened 44.5%, but defense aircraft bookings declined 9.4%. Motor vehicle & parts orders gained 0.1% after a 2.0% rise.

In the capital goods sector, orders increased 5.4% (14.9% y/y) after a 6.9% rise. Nondefense capital goods bookings gained 6.0% (15.8% y/y), but orders excluding aircraft & parts eased 0.1% (+7.0% y/y) after a 0.9% rise. Defense aircraft orders increased 0.9% (8.1% y/y) following a 15.3% increase.

Orders excluding the transportation sector were fairly stable (6.7% y/y) after an 8.9% increase. Orders for primary metals increased 1.4% (14.3% y/y) after a 4.3% rise, and fabricated metals orders improved 0.1% (6.9% y/y) following a 0.2% gain. A 1.3% increase (10.3% y/y) in computer & electronic product orders followed two months of slight decline. Communications equipment orders rose 8.2% (10.7% y/y) following a 7.5% decline. Computer orders declined 2.6% (-3.6% y/y), down for the fourth month in the last five. Electrical equipment, appliance & component orders were fairly steady (0.7% y/y) after a 3.2% increase. Machinery orders declined 1.7% (+5.3% y/y) after a 0.3% rise.

Shipments of durable goods improved 0.3% (6.9% y/y), following a 0.7% rise. Excluding transportation, shipments fell 0.4% (+6.7% y/y) after a 0.8% gain.

Unfilled orders for durable goods increased 0.8% (3.0% y/y) after a 0.3% rise. Backlogs of orders excluding transportation rose 0.7% (4.5% y/y) following three months of lesser increase.

Inventories of durable goods gained 0.1% (4.3% y/y), the weakest increase in nearly a year. Inventories excluding the transportation sector increased 0.4% (5.6% y/y) and repeated February's rise.

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

Hitting a Cyclical High: The Wage Growth Premium from Changing Jobs from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta can be found here.

Durable Goods NAICS Classification Mar Feb Jan Mar Y/Y 2017 2016 2015
New Orders (SA, % chg) 2.6 3.5 -3.6 9.5 5.9 -1.7 -4.6
  Transportation 7.6 8.9 -9.8 15.0 4.9 -3.4 -6.2
Total Excluding Transportation -0.0 0.9 -0.3 6.7 6.5 -0.7 -3.6
  Nondefense Capital Goods 6.0 5.8 -1.0 15.8 7.8 -7.1 -11.0
    Excluding Aircraft -0.1 0.9 -0.3 7.0 5.3 -4.6 -4.3
Shipments 0.3 0.7 0.5 6.9 4.3 -1.6 -0.6
Unfilled Orders 0.8 0.3 -0.3 3.0 1.9 -1.7 -2.0
Inventories 0.1 0.4 0.4 4.3 4.1 -0.7 1.6
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