October 27, 2016 Reading Time: < 1 minute


Today’s report from the Department of Commerce on new orders and shipments of durable goods sent mixed signals on the state of the economy and outlook for third quarter GDP. Total new orders for durable goods fell 0.1 percent in September following a 0.3 percent gain in August. Shipments of durable goods however, rose 0.8 percent after two months of no gains. In aggregate, new orders tend to lead shipments by a couple months.

Two key measures within the report are the new orders and shipments of nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft.  This category is a good indicator of business investment in capital equipment, a component of GDP. For this measure, signals are also mixed.  New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft fell 1.2 percent for the month while shipments rose 0.3 percent. For the third quarter as a whole, new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft rose at a 5.2 percent annualized rate while shipments fell at a 4.4 percent pace.

So what’s the take away? The data suggest that the business investment part of the upcoming report on third quarter GDP may continue to be weak but the turn-around in new orders in the third quarter could be a positive sign for business investment in the fourth quarter (see chart 1).

Robert Hughes

Bob Hughes

Robert Hughes joined AIER in 2013 following more than 25 years in economic and financial markets research on Wall Street. Bob was formerly the head of Global Equity Strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, where he developed equity investment strategy combining top-down macro analysis with bottom-up fundamentals.

Prior to BBH, Bob was a Senior Equity Strategist for State Street Global Markets, Senior Economic Strategist with Prudential Equity Group and Senior Economist and Financial Markets Analyst for Citicorp Investment Services. Bob has a MA in economics from Fordham University and a BS in business from Lehigh University.

Get notified of new articles from Robert Hughes and AIER.
AIER - American Institute for Economic Research

250 Division Street | PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230-1000

Contact AIER
Telephone: 1-888-528-1216 | Fax: 1-413-528-0103

Press and other media outlets contact
[email protected]

Editorial Policy

This work is licensed under a 
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,
except where copyright is otherwise reserved.

© 2021 American Institute for Economic Research
Privacy Policy

AIER is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit
registered in the US under EIN: 04-2121305