Headline durables orders were up and close to expectations but core orders unexpectedly declined. Durables orders made a slight 0.2 percent comeback in April, following a 3.7 percent decrease the month before (prior revised estimate, down 3.9 percent). Analysts forecast a 0.5 percent gain for April.
Excluding transportation, durables declined 0.6 percent after a revised 0.8 percent drop in March (prior revised estimate, down 1.1 percent). The April decrease fell short of market expectations for a 0.7 percent rise.
The transportation component posted a 3.1 percent boost after rising 2.3 percent in March. Subcomponent strength was in nondefense aircraft, up a monthly 7.2 percent, and motor vehicles, up 5.6 percent. Defense aircraft dropped a monthly 34.0 percent.
Weakness was widespread outside of transportation. Declines were led by machinery and fabricated metals with declines also seen in computers & electronics and in electrical. Those showing improvement were primary metals and "other."
The outlook for near-term business investment in equipment has softened over the last two months.
New orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft declined 1.9 percent in April and dipped 2.2 percent in March but followed a gain of 2.9 percent in February. Shipments for this series eased 1.4 percent in March, following a 1.9 percent boost the prior month.
Today's report indicates softening in the manufacturing sector. While manufacturing surveys do not always track government statistics, traders likely will be looking for more encouraging news from these surveys in coming weeks.
On the news, equity futures declined moderately. Released at the same time, initial jobless claims essentially were as forecast.
Market Consensus before announcement
Durable goods orders declined 3.9 percent in March after a 2.0 percent rebound the previous month. Excluding transportation, durables posted a 1.3 percent decrease after a 1.8 percent increase in February. Consensus notes numbers include annual revisions released May 18.
The transportation component plunged a monthly 9.9 percent in March after rising 2.6 percent the month before. Subcomponent weakness was led by a 43.6 percent plunge in new orders for nondefense aircraft (Boeing orders). Outside of transportation, declines were broad based.