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Durable Goods Orders Fall 17.2% in April, Gold Sees Strong Gains

Durable goods orders saw a major drop in April of 17.2%, above expectations of 19% decline following a 16.6% drop the month before. The data strengthens the view that the upcoming Q2 GDP contraction will likely be the worst in recorded history. New orders for capital goods declined, as did shipments, according to the latest report released on Thursday by the Commerce Department.

Key Takeaways

  • Durable goods orders fell 17.2% last month compared to 16.6% in March, slightly above expectations of a 19% drop.
  • Orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a proxy for future business investment, fell 5.8% vs. 10% decline expected.
  • March data was revised downward significantly, showing a 1.1% drop in core-capital goods orders vs. 0.1% decline originally reported.

While the figures show dire economic circumstances in the manufacturing industry, some metrics came in above expectations. Economists forecast core capital goods orders, an indication of future business investment, to drop by 10% vs. the actual result of 5.8%. In March, economists predicted a drop of just 0.1% and were surprised by the actual drop of 1.1%. Shipments of core capital goods fell 5.4% in April compared to 1.2% decline the month before, indicating reduced equipment spending.

Demand for transportation fell by 47.3%. Boeing saw no new orders in April and announced plans to lay off 12,000 staff members yesterday. The aircraft manufacturer also reported cancellations for existing orders. Meanwhile, orders for motor vehicles and parts saw an even steeper plunge of 52.8%, with greatly reduced demand for cars amid record layoffs and strict travel restrictions.

Core capital goods orders fell in April as retail sales saw their worst month ever and the manufacturing and service industries went into further decline. Q2 GDP is now forecast to contract by 40%, which will mark it as the worst quarterly drop in GDP since records began in 1947. Q1 GDP has fallen by 5% as of the latest report, revised downward from 4.8% decline.

Market Reaction

Gold prices have seen strong upward momentum in today’s session following the release of downbeat economic news from multiple sources. Spot gold last traded at $1,720.71/oz, up 0.64% with a high of $1,726.80/oz and a low of $1,707.82/oz. Initial jobless claims rose by another 2.12 million last week as the labor market collapse continues amid coronavirus lockdown procedures. The reports of further layoffs, lower than expected GDP figures, and a major drop in durable goods orders have all created a bullish environment for gold in the short term.