Business spending on capital goods rose in August
WASHINGTON — US companies invested last month in computers, communications equipment, and machinery, boosting capital goods orders for the third time in four months.
The 4.1 percent increase to capital goods in August signaled a rebound in business spending after orders fell 5.3 percent in July. It also suggests manufacturing, which has helped drive economic growth since the recession ended in June 2009, is still a bright spot in a weak recovery.
The gains in capital goods orders, along with a jump in business confidence in Germany, helped send stocks soaring.
The demand for durable goods fell 1.3 percent in August, the Commerce Department said yesterday. But that was pulled down by a significant drop in orders for aircraft. When excluding the volatile transportation sector, orders rose 2 percent — the best showing in five months.
In a separate report, Commerce said that sales of new homes were unchanged from a month earlier at a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 288,000.
The sales pace was the second-worst on records dating back to 1963, with the pace in May being the worst.
Homes sales in August were down 29 percent from the same month a year earlier.
Normally, the building industry powers economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. But housing has been at the center of this downturn and shows no signs of recovering quickly.
The manufacturing sector has expanded for 13 straight months, as measured by the Institute for Supply Management.