The domestic economy, badly in need of a lift, has received some mildly, but not uniformly, reassuring news this morning, as the U.S. Commerce Department has reported that orders for durable goods, those long-lived consumer and business offerings, rose by 1.6% last month. Expectations had been for an increase of just 0.6% during June.
Moreover, the gain for May, initially estimated at 1.3%, was revised upwards to an increase of 1.6%. We note that this is an unusually volatile series. Still, the back-to-back increases were somewhat encouraging. However, all of the gain, and then some, was attributable to a surge in orders for high-priced transportation equipment, including aircraft. Excluding transportation, new orders for durable goods decreased by 1.1% last month. Excluding defense, new orders fell by 0.7%.
Thus, despite the healthy headline increase, there were pockets of weakness in the report. On the plus side, though, transportation equipment has now been up for four of the past five months, posting a gain of $5.1 billion in June, or 8.0%, to $68.8 billion. Also, encouraging was the fact that nondefense orders for capital goods increased by 1.2% in June, while such shipments gained 0.6%. The total order rate for all capital goods was also strong, rising from $78.5 billion in May to $83.8 billion last month.
On the other hand, we saw declines in orders for fabricated metals, along with setbacks in demand for machinery, computers, electrical equipment, and motor vehicles and parts. On the whole, then, this was a decent report, after the gains and losses are tabulated, but not one that will change the overall economic picture or revise the Federal Reserve's likely move to an even more stimulative position when it convenes its next FOMC meeting on Tuesday.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.