WASHINGTON – Orders for U.S. durable goods rose in September by the most in three months as stronger demand for commercial and military aircraft outweighed a drop in business equipment.
Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years increased 3.7 percent after a revised 0.2 percent gain in August, the Commerce Department said Friday in Washington. The median forecast of 67 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 2.3 percent advance. A gauge of demand for capital equipment slumped 1.1 percent, a sign companies pulled back ahead of the partial federal government shutdown.
“Investment spending has been really soft this year,” Joshua Dennerlein, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in New York, said before the report. “You’d expect to see rip-roaring investment because the groundwork is there, but you keep getting these uncertainty shocks, these policy shocks. People are going to hold off on investment because they’re not really sure.”
Stock-index futures were little changed after the figures, with the contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in December falling less than 0.1 percent to 1,748.1 at 8:35 a.m. in New York.
Faster growth in manufacturing, which accounts for about 12 percent of the economy, depends on how quickly confidence is restored in the aftermath of a budget battle that shut down the government for half of this month. Results from Ford Motor Co. and Whirlpool Corp. show stronger domestic auto and housing markets remain sources of strength for the expansion.
Orders excluding transportation equipment, where demand is often volatile month to month, fell 0.1 percent after a 0.4 percent decrease in August.
Forecasts for total durable goods orders in the Bloomberg survey of economists ranged from a 0.3 percent decline to a 7.5 percent increase after a previously reported 0.1 percent advance in August.