"Unexpected" weakness and downward revisions are hallmarks of the beginnings of recessions. And so it it with durable goods. Economists had forecast a gain, instead there was a 1.6% drop. Moreover July was revised lower as well.
Orders for goods meant to last at least three years, excluding volatile demand for such things as airplanes and automobiles, fell 1.6 percent last month after a greater-than- previously estimated 1.3 percent decrease in July, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. Total bookings plunged 13 percent, the most since January 2009, paced by a decline in demand for civilian aircraft.
“There was broad-based weakness,” said Tom Porcelli, chief U.S. economist at RBC Capital Markets LLC in New York. “What this now means is that capital expenditures are now going to probably fall for the first time since the recovery started. It remains a terribly challenging backdrop in the U.S.”
The median forecast of 53 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected a 0.2 percent gain in ex-transportation orders. The Commerce Department revised July data down from a previously reported 0.6 percent decrease. Survey Results
The decline in total orders was more than twice as large as the 5 percent drop median estimate in the Bloomberg survey.
Other reports today showed the economy grew less than previously forecast in the second quarter and claims for jobless benefits dropped last week to a two-month low.
The world’s largest economy expanded at a 1.3 percent pace in the second quarter after growing at a 2 percent rate from January through March. The revision, the third estimate for the quarter, compared with a prior estimate of 1.7 percent and the Bloomberg survey’s 1.7 percent median forecast.
The reduction in growth reflected slower gains in consumer spending and farm inventories, the latter caused by the drought.
Civilian aircraft bookings, which are often volatile, slumped 102 percent in August after surging 51 percent the prior month, today’s Commerce Department report showed. The size of the decrease may reflect some cancellations in prior months. Boeing Co. (BA), the largest U.S. aircraft maker, received an order for a single plane, down from 260 the month before.
Orders for non-defense capital equipment excluding airplanes, a proxy for future business investment in items such as computers, engines and communications equipment, rose 1.1 percent after decreases of 5.2 percent in July and 2.7 percent in June, the Commerce Department data showed.
Shipments of those goods, used in calculating gross domestic product, fell 0.9 percent after decreasing 1.1 percent in July. Caterpillar Forecast
Exports dropped 1 percent in July as American companies shipped fewer automobiles, metals and consumer goods abroad, according to Commerce Department figures issued earlier this month.