The Commerce Department publishes its first look at the durable goods report at 8:30 a.m. EST Tuesday. Economists expect the headline figure to increase 1.9 percent. That would be a moderate gain from 1 percent decline last month. Here’s what to look for in the report.
1. Boeing effect
The expected jump in the headline figure is mostly attributed to increased aircraft orders for Boeing. Last month they got order for 69 aircrafts where as it was only two in February, and this year they are expected to average 60 planes per month.
But despite this volatile push handed by aircrafts, the overall increase of 1.7 percent will not be enough to dispel fears of recession, according to economists. Transportation numbers are expected to rise but moderately due to unsatisfactory auto sales.
2. Signs of immediate economic growth
The number that is expected to draw a lot of attention is new orders excluding transportation. After a sharp and unexpected decline of 1.3 percent in the last report, economist are hoping to see the number go back up at 0.4 percent, indicating growth in the economy.
“Right now we have good job growth, decent housing but this could all fall apart if ex-transportation number fell sharply again,” said Stan Shipley, economist at International Strategy and Investment.
Core capital goods, which are considered as proxy to business investment confidence, will also be watched closely. Most economists expect it to rise by 0.5 percent.
3. Worries about recession
The demand for equipment has been hurt by weak global economies and the lack of investment in the energy sector due to oil prices. This has resulted in lower than expected equipment numbers in the past months and concerns about the growth outlook for the upcoming months.
“If we don’t see a rise in equipment in March then it’ll look a prolonged period of weakness in that measure and that is a leading indicator of recession,” said Mike Englund, economist at Action Economics.
Economists are hoping that the low demand early in the year is only due to seasonally expected slow start and this report should bounce back in equipment aggregates.
4. Return to Trend for Shipments
Shipments are expected to recover after relatively tumultuous past few months. Economists expect a 2.4 percent increase from a -3 percent drop in February.
These numbers directly add up to the GDP and so are looked with more interest than unfilled orders. The 2.4 percent rise in the shipments simply brings it to expected trend after a string of weak performances.
“Q1 GDP is coming out later this week, there might be some fine tuning of expectations based on the durable goods report,” said David Sloan, economist at 4cast LLC.
5. Indication of interest rate hike soon
While economists don’t think the report will make an impact strong enough to change what Janet Yellen has to say on Wednesday, the report will have a role to play in deciding whether to raise the interest rates as early as June. Many economists say that might be the month when we see the hike unless the indicators don’t show signs of positive growth.