Aircraft demand spurs record gain in U.S. durable goods orders

Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:12pm EDT
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By Lucia Mutikani

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods posted their biggest gain on record in July on strong overseas demand for aircraft, and the underlying trend also remained firm, pointing to brisk economic growth.

Durable goods orders, items ranging from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last three years or more, jumped 22.6 percent last month after an upwardly revised 2.7 percent increase in June, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday.

Transportation orders rose a record 74.2 percent as bookings for civilian aircraft more than tripled. Boeing (BA.N: Quote) had said earlier it received a record 324 aircraft orders in July. At the same time, orders for autos logged the biggest gain in five years.

Outside of transportation, demand was decidedly softer. Still, upward revisions to the data for June as well as a pick-up in business investment plans, shipments and order backlogs suggested a strong underpinning for growth.

"This report reinforces the message that manufacturing growth is picking up and is likely to support stronger GDP growth in the second half of the year," said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.U.S. stocks traded higher, with the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI reaching an all-time intraday high, with Boeing shares up 0.4 percent. Prices for U.S. Treasury debt rose, while the dollar was flat against a basket of currencies. Helping bolster investors' spirits, the Conference Board said consumer confidence hit its highest level in nearly seven years in August. A gauge of households' perceptions of the labor market touched its best level since July 2008.

A separate report, however, showed house price growth continued to slow in June. The S&P/Case Shiller's national house price index rose 6.2 percent from a year ago, the smallest gain since November 2012 and down from a 7 percent rise in May.

The housing sector cooled abruptly last year as mortgage rates moved higher, with a lack of supply also crimping sales. Economists think slower price appreciation will help keep the housing recovery on the rails.


A woman walks by stoves in the appliance section at a Sears store in Schaumburg, Illinois near Chicago, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Young