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Durable Goods Orders Beat Expectations

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Durable goods orders rose in May, showing that corporations increased spending over the month. Durable goods increased 1.1% from April into May, beating economists' expectations for a 0.4% rise. April's number was revised downward from a reported 0.2% gain to a 0.2% contraction.

Orders for durable goods, items such as toasters and aircraft that are meant to last longer than three years, are an indicator of corporate spending, especially the non-defense ex aircraft orders index. This measure of corporate spending rose 1.6% in May after dropping 1.4% in April, breaking the streak of two straight monthly declines. Economists had forecast this measure to rise 1.7%, so it is strong but not as strong as expected.

Stocks barely moved on the news, with Dow futures gaining a mere five points after the data release. Rates also were little changed, a potential sign that investors may be waiting for the commencement of the European summit on Thursday before taking on risk.

The bright spot in the report was the 2.7 percent jump in transportation equipment as aircraft bookings picked up and motor vehicle demand increased. This news bodes well for automakers such as Ford (NYSE: F) and GM (NYSE: GM) and aircraft makers such as Boeing (NYSE: BA) and Embraer (NYSE: ERJ).

A continuing slowdown in China and a prolonged slowdown in many European countries continue to be a drag on growth, leading to the anemic recovery seen in the U.S. Even as durable goods orders rise, which is generally correlated to growth, the drag emanating from abroad may act as a muting effect, keeping growth tepid.

Shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, different than the orders index, rose 0.4% in May after falling 1.5% in April. This measure is used to calculate equipment and software spending in the gross domestic product (GDP) report, and so it has a high correlation to U.S. GDP growth.

Boeing reported that it received eight orders for new aircraft, double the amount from April, on the back of last week's news that Turkish Air is set to order at least 15 new jumbo jets from either Boeing or its rival Airbus. Europe's fifth-largest carrier plans to purchase Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8 planes for delivery after 2014, Chairman Hamdi Topcu said in an interview in Istanbul.

Selling 15 new 747-8 aircraft to Turkish Air would amount to almost $5 billion in added revenue based on the average price of $332.9 million per aircraft sold last year. An order announcement may be timed to coincide with the Farnborough International Air Show, the largest aerospace event in the world this year, which begins on July 9.

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