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Durable Goods Orders Rebound on Volatile Component, Gold Price Ticks Downward

Durable goods orders rose sharply last month following a spike in demand for military aircraft, a volatile component. Durable goods orders rose 0.6% in October after dipping -1.4% the month prior. Excluding defense orders such as military aircraft, orders rose 0.1%.

Key Takeaways

  • Gains in durable goods orders were driven by an 18.1% increase in military aircraft orders, which tend to have intermittent demand.
  • Orders for last month came in above general expectations, which were lower due to the impact of the trade war and the General Motors Strike.
  • Excluding defense, durable goods orders rose 0.1%.

Durable goods orders, meaning any product designed to last over 3 years, rose 0.6% overall in October due to a surge in defense orders. The recent strike at General Motors saw a -1.9% reduction for auto parts and car orders in October, and a -2.9% drop in September. Manufacturing has also suffered under the ongoing effects of the trade war with China due to tariffs placed on American exports as well as and Chinese imports, many of which have been widely used in US-made goods. A measure that tracks business investment rose 1.2% in October after falling in September.

Orders for non-capital defense goods excluding aircraft, a measure used to define business spending plans, rose 1.2% month to a 9-month high, a far sight from the -0.3% drop predicted. So-called core capital goods orders saw gains due to heightened demand for machinery, computers, and electronic products and fabricated metals. September data was revised slightly upward to show capital goods orders dropping -0.5% rather than -0.6% as formerly reported. This metric is used in calculating equipment spending in GDP. Q3 GDP has been measured at 2.1% for 2019, indicating moderate growth.

Manufacturing Still in Trouble

Regional manufacturing surveys are still underperforming due to trade war pressure as the conflict rounds of its 16th month. While the US and China appear to be inching towards a deal, business investment has taken a major hit in the meantime along with manufacturing. Factory output dropped for the second month in a row last month. The central bank has pointed to the trade war and the general economic slowdown seen worldwide as leading causes of the decline of the manufacturing sector.  Business investment dropped for the second quarter in a row in Q2 2019, the longest period of contraction since 2015.

Market Reaction

Gold has traded lower following the news of renewed activity in durable goods orders. Spot gold last traded at $1,454.65/oz, down -0.35% with a high of $1,462.83/oz and a low of $1,453.88/oz. Gold prices may have been influenced by reports of moderate GDP growth of 2.1% for Q3, and by the latest initial jobless claims figures which show claims tumbling back near post-recession lows at 213,000.