The U.S. Commerce Department is scheduled to release its monthly durable goods report on Thursday. The report will cover business investment data derived from March. Over the past few months, prior reports have shown high fluctuations between new orders and shipments, but economist expect U.S. durable goods will continue to experience and increase. Here are five things to look for upon its release at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
1. New orders continue to grow
Back in February, new orders for U.S. durable goods experienced an increase of 3.0 percent, rebounding from a 3.5 percent decline in January. For March, economists expect new orders to continue increasing by a median estimate of 1.6 percent.
“I don’t think we’ll match the February gain of 3%,” said Carl Riccadona, chief economist at Bloomberg, who thinks new orders in March will remain up but not as high as the previous month’s number. “the trend is for continued acceleration, they’ll be some choppiness, some slowdown but still in a positive outcome.
2. Volatile numbers caused by large aircraft orders
Global aircraft giant Boeing reported to have received a total 197 new orders in March, according to the company’s website. Surpassing February orders by more than half. The outcome will most likely inflate March’s total new orders, possibly mislead about the underlying strength of the economy.
“Boeing orders were pretty strong in March that should pop up headline durable goods orders,” says Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s analytics.
Still, he predicts new orders excluding transportation will remain in the plus despite the volatility. “A lot of [new orders] is going to be transportation,” said Sweet. “I’m looking for 0.4% increase, that is what the real number will look like.”
3. Another expected slow-growth in capital goods shipments
Shipments for core capital goods have experienced back-to-back increase in both January and February. The results have indicated demands for core capital goods being met have continued to pick up even after experiencing a minor decline back in December.
As far as March numbers go, economists expect shipments to continue moving in a positive direction but not as figuratively as orders have been. Carl Riccadona says “the trend should continue at least for longer than half of the year given this mismatch between orders and shipments.”
4. The new tax plan and tariff implemented causing minor effects
As February’s durable goods number exceeded economist’s expectations, it was speculated the outcome was the result of the new tax cut implemented by the Trump administration to incentivize capital spending. However, some economists don’t expect the new tax plan to make dramatic impact on investment in March.
“There may be a small positive,” says David Sloan, economist at 4cast Ltd. “Businesses were investing decently heavily before so I don’t think the tax plan will make a big difference.”
In addition, the recent tariffs implemented on steel and aluminum and directed towards countries such as China have begun to cause concerns of a possible trade war. Despite the circumstance, it is predicted to have only minor negative effects for March.
“Tariffs is risk for the manufacturing sector, not a huge risk at this point,” says Sloan. “If it generates into a full-scale trade war, then we could see some negative impact on industries as a whole.”
5. Strong signs of an overall economy
The U.S. Department of Labor reported an addition of 103,000 new jobs while the unemployment rate remained the same in March. Also, private manufacturing businesses specializing in durable goods added 22,000 new jobs. All, indicating demand in business investment continues to increase.
With that being said, March’s durable goods report is expected to continue further indicating healthy signs of strength for the overall US economy.
“We’re seeing business investment spending finally kicking in,” says Riccadona. “What we’re going to see in tomorrow’s report is important for telling us what stage in the economic cycle we are in.”