Orders to US factories for manufactured goods designed to last three years or more underwent the biggest slump in 15 months, dropping $11.7 billion in value to a total of $248.5 billion.
A key indicator used to track investment showed a third consecutive month of weak activity in business investment. Durable goods orders, like housing starts which are down annually, are both seen as indicators of the health of the overall US economy.
- Durable goods orders fell by 4.4% in October, a worse result than expected forecasts of a mere 2.6% decline.
- Combined with other recent economic data such as manufacturing and housing reports, this report may add to concerns that capital spending is slowing down due to trade war uncertainty, which supports economic theorists stating that the recent rate of economic growth has been unsustainable.
- Major drops in civilian and military aircraft orders contributed to the decline with a 12.2% drop in transportation orders.
- Core durable goods orders excluding aircraft rose 0.1% compared to a predicted 0.4% rise.
Durable goods orders were weighed down by the transportation category which has been volatile recently. Civilian aircraft orders dropped 21% and military aircraft orders took a huge 59% dip.
Non-military goods shipments (excluding aircraft) rose 0.3% in October as approximately predicted - this particular measure is often used to predict GDP growth. The prior month’s 0.2% decline was revised to 0.1%, and the three-month annualized gain for shipments dropped from 7.2% to 4%. The annualized three-month gain for orders, on the other hand, dipped from 8.1% to 2.9%.
The slowdown raises concerns that the trade war between China and the US is resulting in reduced investment and capital spending from cautious companies and investors uncertain about the future.
“The limited visibility on trade spats with China and others is slowing capital spending decisions and thus offsetting the impact of the tax incentive to increase capital expenditures,” noted Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group.
CIBC World Market’s Katherine Judge said the report bodes ill for Q$ GDP results, saying:
“The details suggest that business investment has started Q4 on shaky footing. That suggests that tax cuts and the accelerated depreciation provision in the TCJA only gave a temporary lift to business investment, and that's now fading.”
Meanwhile, the Fed continues to describe the economy as robust and is expected to go ahead with a fourth rate hike in December and three more in 2019.
Gold price is holding well above recent support lines at $1,226.14/oz and up 0.59% on the day while December Comex Futures are up 0.42% and trading at $1,226.40/oz.
The risk-avoidant behavior seen among investors at the moment is likely benefiting gold which is being seen as a safe haven in which to preserve value during times of economic uncertainty.