June was a strong month for durable goods orders which rose a slightly higher-than-expected 3.4 percent. Excluding transportation, which is where aircraft orders are tracked, new orders rose 0.8 percent which is near top-end expectations. Core capital goods orders, which also exclude aircraft, rose a very solid 0.9 percent. These readings are some of the highest of the last year and offer welcome evidence of a long awaited pop higher for what is, however, a still depressed factory sector. For the year/year figures, New Orders were down -2.8% and ex-transportation were down -4.5%.
Turning briefly to civilian aircraft, orders surged 103 percent after falling 46 percent in May. Swings in aircraft are common in this report and reflect monthly swings in Boeing orders. Other industries include a small gain for motor vehicles and for computers & electronics as well as large gains for machinery and fabricated metals. In a hint of strength for the construction sector, electrical equipment jumped an especially sharp 2.8 percent in the month.
Turning back to totals, shipments inched 0.1 percent higher with shipments of core capital goods edging 0.1 percent lower and including downward revisions to both May and April. The shipment readings for capital goods will not be lifting second-quarter GDP estimates for business investment. Unfilled orders ended two months of contraction with a 0.1 percent gain while inventories rose 0.4 percent, a modest build that keeps the stock-to-sales ratio unchanged at 1.68.
This is only the third monthly gain for durable goods orders going all the way back to July, which was before of course the drop in oil prices and rise in the value of the dollar, the former having torpedoed the energy sector and the second having flattened the nation’s exports.