MW: Orders for durable goods post second straight gain
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) â€” New orders for durable goods, a telltale sign for the U.S. economy, climbed in February for the second straight month.
Orders for durable goods advanced 1.7% while the increase in January was raised several notches to 2.3%, reflecting a pickup in manufacturing that kicked in toward the end of last year.
Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 1.6% increase.
In premarket trades, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.02% was set to open slightly higher.
The increase in bookings last month was spearheaded by commercial aircraft, whose orders jumped almost 48%. That offset a nearly 1% drop in orders for new cars and trucks.
If transportation is set aside, new orders for manufactured goods rose a smaller 0.4%, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
Still, orders minus transportation have advanced for six straight months.
A key measure of business investment, however, fell slightly, though it was just the first decline in five months. So-called core orders dipped 0.1%.
Business investment is one of three pegs that underpin the U.S. economy, but itâ€™s been underwhelming during the current expansion that began in mid-2009.
Surveys of executives at big and small companies alike suggest investment could pick up even faster soon on the hopes that a pro-business Trump administration fulfills its biggest goals.
Yet itâ€™s too early to tell if Republicans will succeed, especially given their difficulties in replacing Obamacare.
The goods new is, business investment appears to have recovered from a slump that started in 2014 and persisted through the first half of 2016.
Despite a drop in core orders in February, they have risen 2.7% in the past year. Thatâ€™s the biggest gain in a 12-month period in three and a half years.
Meanwhile, shipments of core capital goods jumped 1% in February. Shipments are fed into the governmentâ€™s formula for calculating gross domestic product, the official scorecard of the economy. That could give a boost to first-quarter GDP.