Business-equipment orders show third drop in four months

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Orders placed with U.S. factories for business equipment fell in November, missing forecasts for an increase and adding to signs that demand is slowing amid risks from the trade war with China.

Non-military capital-goods orders excluding aircraft — a proxy for business investment — dropped 0.6%, after an upwardly revised 0.5% increase the prior month, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The Bloomberg survey median called for a 0.2% gain. Bookings for all durable goods, a broader measure of items meant to last at least three years, rebounded by less than expected.

The third decline in four months for business-equipment orders may add to concern — reflected in plunging stock markets — that corporate investment and factory activity are at risk of slipping into a more pronounced slowdown.

The tumble in oil prices may also be weighing on energy-industry spending. Figures used to calculate gross domestic product also showed a loss of momentum: Shipments of non-military capital goods excluding aircraft fell 0.1%, also missing estimates for a gain, after an upwardly revised increase.

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Federal Reserve policy makers this week lowered their projected path of interest-rate hikes as companies grapple with uncertainty on tariffs, at a time the boost from tax cuts is set to fade. The broader durable-goods numbers reflect swings in the volatile transportation category, with rebounds in orders for both civilian and military aircraft and parts. Separate data had showed Boeing Co.’s aircraft orders surged in November from the prior month.

Bloomberg News

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