Market news

28 January 2020

U.S. investment spending - grounded - ING

James Knightley, the Chief International Economist at ING, notes that U.S. durable goods orders increased 2.4% m-o-m in December, "which was well ahead of expectations, but the details paint a much darker picture."

"Strip out defense (which rose 90.2% MoM!) and durable goods orders were down 2.5% following a 0.5% drop in November. Civilian aircraft orders fell 74.7% MoM following a 28.4% decline in November, which of course reflects the problems at Boeing. The cessation of production of the 737-Max earlier this month has meant less orders for the 600 or so different part suppliers while actual Boeing aircraft orders slumped to just 3 for December versus 63 in November."

"Nonetheless, it isn't just about Boeing. Non-defence capital goods orders ex aircraft slumped 0.9% versus expectations of a 0.4% rise. This is significant because it strips out the volatile components of the report (defence and aircraft, obviously) and has a much stronger correlation with investment spending in the US. The chart below shows an uptick in the YoY rate of growth, but we would caution that it reflects a very weak reading at the same time last year (coinciding with the start of the December 2018-January 2019 government shutdown) and we, unfortunately, strongly suspect that it will be back in negative YoY growth again next month."

"Investment spending was disappointing through 2019. The uncertainty generated by the trade war, the weakness in global demand and the effects of a strong dollar may all have played a part in this. Now that US-China trade relations are on a better footing this could provide a platform for stronger numbers in 2020, but we don't see it as a transformational agreement that will unleash an investment boom."

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