WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Orders for durable goods such as planes and computers fell in May for the second month in a row and registered the biggest drop in six months, suggesting that an early-year surge has faded.
Durable-goods orders slipped 1.1% last month following a similar decline in April, the government reported Monday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast a 0.8% decrease.
The softness in orders for long-lasting goods comes halfway through the first year of a Trump administration that’s struggling to enact a pro-business agenda amid intense partisan in-fighting in Washington.
Businesses that were eagerly anticipating tax and regulatory relief may be taking a more wait-and-see attitude now, especially as Congress aims to revamp the nation’s health-care system yet again. Health care is one of the biggest business expenses.
Orders for large airplanes, a category that often shows big swings, sank nearly 12% in May.
Yet orders for new autos rose 1.3% in May and increased for the second straight month.
If airplanes and autos are stripped out, orders minus transportation rose 0.1%. That’s the fourth gain in five months and a reflection of a stable if subdued business environment.
A key measure of business investment known as core capital-goods orders, meanwhile, fell 0.2% to mark the first decline of 2017.
Investment had accelerated late last year after a prolonged slump, but the recent upsurge now appears to have tapered off.
U.S. futures markets pointed to a higher opening for the Dow Jones Industrial Average