Big downward revisions to April data almost sink the latest durable goods report where, however, important details show some life. Total orders sank 1.8 percent in May but this is badly skewed by a 49 percent drop in aircraft orders where outsized month-to-month swings are the norm. The April revision is the big surprise here, now at minus 1.5 from an initial minus 0.5 percent in an unwelcome reminder of how volatile this series is.
Stripping out transportation, which is where aircraft orders are tracked, shows strength in the month at plus 0.5 percent. But here again, the April revision swings in and takes an initial 0.5 percent gain to minus 0.3 percent.
The key area, however, that remains on the positive side is capital goods where new orders excluding aircraft rose 0.4 percent in May vs a 0.3 percent slip in April which was initially posted at plus 1.0 percent. Shipments for this reading, in what is a plus for second-quarter GDP, show back-to-back gains of 0.3 percent.
The industry breakdown looks almost positive in this report. Many of the capital-goods industries show solid acceleration in new orders the last couple of months including machinery, fabricated metals and primary metals. Otherwise, there’s only a few industries showing weakness including electrical equipment which is a negative signal for construction where signals have otherwise been strong. Motor vehicles are surprisingly flat despite the recent surge in sales.
Among other readings, unfilled orders are down for a second month at a heavy 0.5 percent while inventories are down 0.2 percent in a reading that’s a negative for second-quarter GDP. Another negative for GDP is a second straight decline in shipments at minus 0.1 percent.