Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

U.S. Business Equipment Orders Eased Last Month After Robust May

The U.S. economy is experiencing steady but slower growth in business investment as orders for capital equipment eased last month following a May increase that was bigger than previously reported, Commerce Department data showed Thursday.

Highlights of Durable Goods Report (June)

  • Non-military capital goods orders excluding aircraft fell 0.1% (est. 0.3% gain) after prior month’s 0.7% jump (prev. 0.2% gain)
  • Shipments of those goods, which are used to calculate GDP, rose 0.2% (est. 0.3% gain) after 0.4% increase (prev. 0.1% gain)
  • Bookings for all durable goods surged 6.5% (est. 3.9% rise) following 0.1% drop (prev. 0.8% decrease)
  • Excluding transportation-equipment demand, which is volatile, orders rose 0.2% after 0.6% advance

Key Takeaways

While business equipment orders unexpectedly eased, bookings for the prior month were revised up to show the biggest advance since January. Orders for non-defense capital goods minus aircraft grew at a 3.2 percent annualized rate from April through June, compared with a 7.1 percent pace in the first three months of the year.

Growth in capital goods shipments moderated as well, indicating the economy probably will receive a smaller boost from equipment spending in the second quarter than it did in the first.

A surge in aircraft orders helped fuel the biggest gain in durable goods bookings since July 2014. Boeing Co., the Chicago-based aerospace company, said it received 184 orders for aircraft in June, the most this year and up from 13 the prior month.

Outside of commercial planes results were mixed, with gains in demand for communications gear, machinery and fabricated metals, while bookings fell for autos and electrical equipment.

Other Details

  • Orders for motor vehicles and parts fell 0.6 percent; compares with industry data showing sales of cars and light trucks in June posted the slowest monthly pace since late 2014
  • Bookings for civilian aircraft and parts surged 131.2 percent; defense capital-goods orders rose 3.8 percent
  • Computers and electronic-products orders decreased 0.3 percent
  • Orders for fabricated metal products rose 0.7 percent, bookings for communications equipment climbed 1.6 percent
  • Durable goods inventories climbed 0.4 percent, most since July 2016; stockpiles of non-defense capital goods minus planes rose 0.7 percent, matching biggest gain in more than three years

— With assistance by Jordan Yadoo

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