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Durable Goods Orders Recovered 15.8% in May, Gold Price Holds Steady

Durable goods orders in the US rose 15.8% to $194.4 billion in May according to the latest report from the US Census Bureau. The sharp 15.8% increase follows a decline of 17.7% in April, when the manufacturing industry was bearing the brunt of the coronavirus lockdown impact. May figures almost erased the heavy losses seen in April, and the May result came in above expectations of 10.6% gain.

Key Takeaways

  • Durable goods orders came in at 15.8% in May vs. -18.1% the month before and 10.6% expected.
  • New orders rose 4% excluding transportation, and 15.5% excluding defense, both of which are volatile categories.
  • Transportation equipment rose 80.7% following two monthly decreases in a row.

The gains in durable goods orders were led by massive growth in transportation equipment, which rose from $20.9 billion to $46.9 billion, an increase of 80.7%. Transportation equipment saw major declines in Q1 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic among other factors. In April, transportation equipment orders plunged 47.3%.  

Boeing saw no new orders whatsoever in April, and some customers canceled their existing orders. Airline travel has been in uncertain territory amid international lockdown restrictions. While Boeing booked 9 orders in May, the company received 18 order cancellations, mostly for the 737 Max aircraft which was recalled following two fatal crashes last year.

Excluding transportation, new orders still rose 4.0% in May vs. 2.5% expected. New orders rose 15.5% excluding defense. Shipments for motor vehicles and parts rose 26.7% after plunging 53.5% the month before, while new orders in that category rose 27.5% following a decline of 53.7% the month before.

While the economy may be starting to recover, the process will be a slow one. The impact of the coronavirus has impacted global supply chains, business relationships, and labor markets. The US manufacturing industry, already reeling from a lengthy trade war with China, has been seriously weakened by the events of the last few months.

Market Reaction

Gold prices have seen little reaction to the news, trading close to the opening price for today’s session. Spot gold last traded at $1,765.44/oz, up 0.14% with a high of $1,768.70/oz and a low of $1,756.07/oz. Initial jobless claims reportedly came in at 1.5 million last week, showing little change from the week before, and this labor market news may also be a factor in the sentiment around gold today.