Friday, January 26, 2007

Durable Goods Orders Surge, New Home Sales Jump, Housing Inventories Fall Again

- Durable Goods Orders for December rose 3.1% versus estimates of 3.0% and an upwardly revised 2.2% in November.
- Durables Ex Transports for December rose 2.3% versus estimates of a .5% gain and a -1.0% decline in November.
- New Home Sales for December rose to 1120K versus estimates of 1052K and an upwardly revised 1069K in November.
BOTTOM LINE: Orders for US-made durable goods increased in December by the most in three months, reflecting more demand for business equipment, motor vehicles and aircraft, Bloomberg reported. Durables ex Transports rose 2.3%, the most since March 2006. Bookings for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft, a gauge of future business investment, rose 2.4%, also the most since 2006. Orders for commercial aircraft soared 27% after a 3.8% gain the prior month. The worst of the manufacturing downturn, related to housing and autos, appears over. I suspect activity will accelerate back to more average levels throughout the year.

New Home Sales in the US rose more than forecast in December, showing the real-estate market is improving, Bloomberg said. The median price of a new home rose 1.8% for all of 2006 to $245,300. The supply of new homes available at the current sales pace is 5.9 months’ worth versus 7.2 months’ worth in July of last year. Sales soared 27% in both the Midwest and Northeast. Sales in the South rose .3%. They fell 4.4% in the West. I continue to believe housing has stabilized and will continue to improve modestly throughout most of the year.

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