Demand for expensive goods were flat in May, and a barometer of capital spending by businesses retreated, government data on the economy Wednesday showed.
Orders for durable goods didn't change last month, holding at a seasonally adjusted $213.64 billion, the Commerce Department said. Durables, which are manufactured goods designed to last at least three years, decreased 1.0% in April, revised down from a previously estimated 0.6% decrease.
While the data showed orders going nowhere in May, the report was better than Wall Street expected; economists had forecast a drop of 0.5%.
But durable orders have gone up measurably only twice over the past six months, a sign of what the sluggish economy is doing to the manufacturing sector.
A barometer of business equipment spending - orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft - decreased in May by 0.8%, after rising 3.1% in April.
The above chart makes the data a bit easier to understand. First notice the gray lines which represent the month over month change. Notice the lack of overall movement. We've seen a ton of small moves. There was also a big move about 6 months ago, but that was countered by the next months downward move.
Note especially the year over year number. First -- notice the scale on the right. The year over year change has been fluctuating a bit above 0% for the last 9-12 months. Also note the year over year number is in a clear downtrend. The bottom line is this number is slowing.