Durables Rise, So Do New Home Sales

On the strength of soaring sales of military and civilian aircraft, new orders for manufactured durable goods increased 3.4% in October, a dramatic reversal from a 2% hurricane-driven decline in September, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Nov. 29. New orders for military aircraft and parts increased 140% to just under $7 billion in October. New orders for civilian aircraft and parts increased 50.4% to $11 billion.

Durable goods are generally big-ticket items designed to last a minimum of three years.

"The 3.4% increase in durable goods orders in October is a positive indicator but overstates the strength in the long-lived segment of manufacturing," says Daniel J. Meckstroth, chief economist at the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, an Arlington, Va.-based business and public policy research group. "A better reading is obtained from non-defense-capital-goods-excluding-aircraft, which fell 1.7% in September and rose 1.3% in October."

Also on Nov. 29, Commerce and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development jointly reported that sales of new single-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.424 million in October, 13% above the revised September rate of 1.26 million. October's rate was well above the 1.2 million rate that economists generally expected. The median sales price of homes in October was $231,000; the average sales price was $286,000. At the end of October, an estimated 496,000 new houses were for sale, just over a four-month supply.

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