U.S. Business Equipment Orders Fall for First Time Since June

U.S. business equipment orders unexpectedly fell in October for the first time in four months even as a gain in capital goods shipments pointed to steady investment growth, Commerce Department figures showed Wednesday.

Highlights of Durable Goods (October)

  • Non-military capital goods orders excluding aircraft declined 0.5% (est. 0.5% gain) after rising an upwardly revised 2.1% the prior month (prev. 1.7% gain)
  • Shipments of those goods, which are used to calculate gross domestic product, rose 0.4% (est. 0.3% increase) after an upwardly revised 1.2% increase (prev. 0.9% gain)
  • Bookings for all durable goods dropped 1.2% (est. 0.3% advance) following an upwardly revised 2.2% increase
  • Excluding transportation-equipment demand, which is volatile, orders rose 0.4% after rising 1.1%

Key Takeaways

While the decline in non-defense capital orders excluding aircraft raises the risk capital equipment sales will cool in coming months, the October advance in shipments and a stronger September point to firm investment demand this quarter.

The three-month annualized gain of 13.1 percent in October shipments of core capital goods follows an 11.7 percent advance for the same period ended in September.

Sustained growth in investment, along with steady consumer spending, bodes well for the economy.

Slower aircraft orders, meanwhile, weighed on total durable goods bookings. Orders for commercial aircraft and parts fell 18.6 percent in October after a 33.9 percent jump a month earlier. That’s in sync with industry reports. Boeing Co., the Chicago-based aerospace company, said it received 64 orders for aircraft in October, down from 72 the prior month.

Other Details

  • Orders for motor vehicles and parts rose 1.7 percent
  • Bookings for fabricated metal products declined 0.9 percent
  • Orders for communications equipment, machinery, computers and electrical hardware all increased in October
  • Durable goods inventories climbed 0.1 percent
  • Defense capital goods orders dropped 9.6 percent

— With assistance by Kristy Scheuble

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