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.


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.