US: Factory Orders

Mon Dec 04 09:00:00 CST 2017

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous Revised
Factory Orders - M/M change -0.4% -0.8% to -0.1% -0.1% 1.4% 1.7%

A big upward revision to core capital goods highlights today's factory orders report which closes the book on what was a mixed October for manufacturing. The month's 0.1 percent decline, which is better than expected and actually hits Econoday's high estimate, reflects a 33 percent downswing for commercial aircraft orders that follows, however, a very strong recent run and looks to build again following Boeing's success at November's Dubai air show.

The split between the report's two main components shows a 0.7 percent gain for nondurable goods -- the new data in today's report where strength is tied to petroleum and coal -- and a 0.8 percent dip for durable orders which is 4 tenths improved from the advance report for this component. And driving the upward revision for durables is a major upward revision to October core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) which is now up 0.3 percent from the initial 0.5 percent decline. This extends what is a very strong run for a component that offers leading indications on business investment.

Shipments of core capital goods are also revised higher, up an additional 2 tenths to 1.1 percent to extend what is also an impressive run, one that feeds directly into nonresidential fixed investment and marks a strong early plus for fourth-quarter GDP. Other readings include a 0.2 percent gain for inventories and a 0.6 percent gain for total shipments, a mismatch pointing to the need for restocking but not enough to change the inventory-to-sales ratio which holds at 1.37. Not a plus in the report is no change in unfilled orders which have yet to get going.

A plus in the report is a sharp 1.3 percent rise in vehicle orders as the auto sector responds to the hurricane-replacement sales surge of September and October. Looking past the headline, this report is very solid and points squarely at a rising contribution from the factory sector.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
Factory orders for aircraft and capital goods, which had been very strong in prior months, fell back in October and set up what is expected to be a 0.4 percent decline for the month's factory orders. But outside these factors, factory orders are likely to show strength and confirm expectations for fourth-quarter manufacturing strength.

Factory orders represent the dollar level of new orders for both durable and nondurable goods. This report gives more complete information than the advance durable goods report which is released one or two weeks earlier in the month.

Investors want to keep their fingers on the pulse of the economy because it usually dictates how various types of investments will perform. The stock market likes to see healthy economic growth because that translates to higher corporate profits. The bond market prefers more moderate growth which is less likely to cause inflationary pressures. By tracking economic data like factory orders, investors will know what the economic backdrop is for these markets and their portfolios. The orders data show how busy factories will be in coming months as manufacturers work to fill those orders. This report provides insight to the demand for not only hard goods such as refrigerators and cars, but nondurables such as cigarettes and apparel. In addition to new orders, analysts monitor unfilled orders, an indicator of the backlog in production. Shipments reveal current sales. Inventories give a handle on the strength of current and future production. All in all, this report tells investors what to expect from the manufacturing sector, a major component of the economy and therefore a major influence on their investments.