Depending on how you look at it, this morning's May Durable Goods report out of the U.S. Census Bureau contains good news, bad news, or ... just plain not enough news to decide.
First, the good news
Let's start off on a happy note: Heading into today's trading, investors had been warned to expect about a 1.4% decline in new orders for manufactured durable goods. The fact that orders actually declined only 1.1% was certainly a relief. It's particularly interesting to note that inventories continued to rise, confirming comments that FedEx
Now, the bad
And that right there is the bad news: Orders for transportation equipment (read: "airplanes") suffered a steep decline last month. Analysts appear to be blaming Boeing
Do you see what I see?
After all, what's Boeing been doing these past few weeks? Upping production plans for its 737 airliner. Warning suppliers like United Technologies
From where I sit, the reported rise in durable goods inventories, which would include United Technologies' and GE's plane parts, coupled with Boeing's heel-and-toe production ramps, suggest there's another fox in the economic henhouse. If airplane orders are coming in light, though, but Boeing's not to blame -- who is? It could be the real culprits are manufacturers of smaller birds -- General Dynamics
These companies don't report earnings until next month, and investors may find themselves perched on the edges of their seats in worry for several weeks, awaiting confirmation of who's to blame. The good news? With the exception of Goldman (which has other things to worry about), these companies all report earnings late in July -- which will give us at least a few days to review another round of manufacturing data before the earnings news gets confirmed. Stay tuned.
Take the Foolish Rorschach test. Do you see something different in today's chart? Tell us about it below.
Fool contributor Rich Smith does not own shares of any company named above. Rich is not a licensed economist, but he plays one on the Web. Check out his latest stock recommendations on Motley Fool CAPS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.