Core capital goods orders down 0.6%, second drop in three months
The numbers: Orders for durable goods in November pointed to business equipment investment continued to slow in the fourth quarter. While orders rose 0.8% in November, it followed a sharp 4.3% decline in the prior month, the government said Friday. The gain in November orders was in line with forecasts of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.
Orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft, known as “core capital goods” fell 0.6% in November, the second drop in the past three months. Shipments of core goods fell 0.1%. Orders excluding defense fell 0.1% in November.
What happened: Transportation orders, mainly aircraft, led the gain in November orders. Stripping out planes and cars, orders fell 0.3%. Transportation often exaggerates the ups and downs in orders because of lumpy demand from one month to the next.
Bookings for commercial jets rose 6.7% in November and they surged 31.5% for fighter jets and other military aircraft. Orders for cars slipped 0.2%.
Aside from aircraft, orders also increased for primary metals. Orders fell for machinery and electrical equipment. Orders for computers were flat in the month.
Big picture: The underlying trend in core orders has cooled recently and suggests that business equipment investment will not be a boost for fourth-quarter gross domestic product.
What they are saying? “The upshot is that growth in business equipment investment appears to have slowed from 3.4% annualized in the third quarter to little more than 2% in the fourth. It is hard to see business investment growth staging a significant rebound any time soon,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
Market reaction: Stocks jumped at the open but lost most of their early gains in choppy trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.81% was recently up by 0.3% but the index is on track for a big weekly decline.