Indications of U.S. economic recovery were contradicted by the Commerce Dept.’s report of an August decline in durable goods orders. “Durable goods” is frequently cited as an index of overall manufacturing activity. The -2.4% drop for the month was the largest decline in the index since January 2009, according to Commerce.
The most significant element of the August durable goods decline was the -42% drop in orders for civilian aircraft. The same category had shown a dramatic 98% increase during July.
Overall orders for transportation products fell -9.3% in August; they had increased 17.7% in July.) August shipments of transport products fell -2%.
Excluding aircraft and defense goods, capital equipment durable goods orders fell just -0.4%. However, this continued July’s -1.3% drop in this segment. Shipments also fell -1.9%.
August orders for defense capital goods increased 1.1%, continuing July’s impressive 15.9% increase. Shipments of defense capital goods also increased. by 2.9%.
Excluding all defense goods, overall durable goods orders dropped -2.4%.
Electronics goods orders (not including semiconductors) fell -0.7% in August; these had increased 1.7% in July. August shipments of electronics goods were down 2.6%.
Machinery orders increased 0.7% in August, but had been reported down by 0.7% in August. Shipments of machinery fell -1.4%.
Electrical equipment orders fell -0.5% in August, following a rise of 4.2% in July. Shipments dropped -3.4%.
Unfinished metal orders rose 1.9% in August, continuing from a 3.2% increase in July. Shipments rose, too, by 1.6%.
Fabricated metals orders were up 0.8% in August, carrying over from July’s 3.5% increase. Shipments of fabricated metals, however, showed no change.