Durable Goods Shipments and Orders Mixed, Home Sales Heading Higher

May 24, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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A first look one economic indicator shows improvement in one area of durable goods while conditions lag in another – but some analysts say this part of U.S. economy continues to improve.

A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau shows new orders for manufactured durable good in April rose 3.3% to $222.6 billion. The increase follow a 5.9% drop in March, but it's up two months out of the last thee. Helping the increase was an 8.1% rise in transportation orders.

A consensus poll of economists predicted an 1.5% increase in April new orders.

In contrast, shipments of durable good in April fell 0.6% to $227.1 billion following two consecutive monthly increases.

Because of the continuing increases in new orders for long-lasting goods, some analysts say this shows the U.S. economy is maintaining somewhat of a resiliency following federal budget cuts, known as the sequester, earlier this year. Others disagree, saying falling shipments indicate that sales will head lower, leading to fewer new orders.

The report follows a separate one from the Commerce Department showing sales of new homes in the U.S. hit a three-month high in April, the second highest level in nearly five years. Sales increased 2.3% from March to an annual rate 454,000, far better than a poll of economists were forecasting. The rate is nearly 15% higher than the same time a year ago.

Home sales were up in April from March in the South and West but declined in Midwest and Northeast.

On Wednesday the National Association of Realtors also reported positive news about new homes sales, saying they increased in April 0.6% to the highest level in more than three years.

“The robust housing market recovery is occurring in spite of tight access to credit and limited inventory,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Without these frictions, existing-home sales easily would be well above the 5-million unit pace. 

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