Economic Data May 18, 2020 / 03:53 pm UTC

Preview: Due May 28 - U.S. April Durable Goods Orders to Show Broad-Based Plunge

By David Sloan

We expect to see a fall of 19.0% in April's durable goods orders, with a 15.0% decline excluding transport. Excluding defense, the fall will likely be even steeper at 19.5%.

April’s ISM manufacturing new orders index of 27.1 was not quite as weak as the 23.2 low from December 2008, while the steepest decline in the ex transport series in the last recession was 10.3% in January 2009. However, for this recession, we are likely to see the weakness concentrated more in one month, with April possibly the bottom. Ex transport data were surprisingly resilient in March, falling by only 0.6%, but increased weakness in April's manufacturing output, which fell by 13.7%, suggests this resilience is unlikely to hold up. 

We expect non-defense capital orders ex aircraft, a key indicator of business investment, to fall by 10.0%. Autos will likely lead the weakness in transport. Heavy Boeing cancellations saw aircraft orders sharply negative in March, but this series will probably be a little less negative in April. 

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