Orders for durable goods — products meant to last at least three years — rose in January for the third month in a row.
The numbers: Orders for long-lasting durable goods rose in January for the third month in a row and business investment posted the biggest increase since last summer, indicating a key segment of the economy is still expanding at a steady if unspectacular pace.
Orders rose 0.4% in January, according to a government report delayed because of the partial federal shutdown earlier this year. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.1% decline.
If transportation is stripped out, orders dipped 0.1% owing to decline in bookings for new cars and trucks.
What happened: Orders rose in January for commercial aircraft, machinery, transportation equipment and networking gear.
Along with a 1% decline in autos and parts, orders also fell for industrial metals and computers.
A key measure of business investment, known as core orders, rose 0.8% in January to mark the biggest increase since last July. Investment had fallen sharply in the prior two months.
Companies pared investment toward the end of the year as interest rates rose and ongoing trade dispute with China disrupted supply chains and business planning. The yearly rate of investment rose slightly to 3.1% in January, but it’s down sharply from recent peak of almost 10%.
The originally reported 1.2% increase in durable-goods orders in December was revised up a tick to 1.3%.
Big picture: By most measures the industrial side of the economy has gotten off to a slower start in 2019. A weaker global economy and stronger dollar have curbed exports and are likely to limit growth in the months ahead, even if the trade dispute with China is resolved.
Rising manufacturing inventories bear watching: That might be a sign that sales continue to soften.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.38% and S&P 500 SPX, +0.30% were set to open slightly higher in Wednesday trades. The Dow was dragged down on Tuesday by sharp losses in Boeing BA, -6.15% after a number of countries grounded the 737 Max following the second deadly crash in six months.
The 10-year Treasury yield TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.38% fell a few basis points to 2.62%.