New orders for durable goods increased 0.8% to $240 billion for April as orders for military aircraft ramped up, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today. A 13.1% boost in new orders for defense aircraft from March to April was behind much of the momentum.  

After jumping a revised 3.6% for March, April's overall improvement proved significantly higher than expected. Analysts had actually predicted a 0.8% decline following March's surprisingly strong report.

New orders managed a 0.1% gain excluding transportation (which includes defense aircraft), and clocked in significantly closer to analyst expectations of a 0.1% decline. 

The "New Orders for Durable Goods" report is generally seen as an indicator of longer-term economic confidence (since durable goods are meant to last at least three years), and this latest report leaves much to be desired.

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Source: Census.gov 

As new orders edged up, shipments fell 0.2% for the third monthly decline in a row. On the other hand, both unfilled orders and inventories increased, up 1% and 0.1%, respectively. Both unfilled orders and inventories are at their highest levels since data were first recorded in 1992.

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