US business spending has a slight pulse, but that’s not saying much

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The US durable goods report—which tracks orders of goods intended to last three years or more—contains one of the more closely-watched gauges on US business spending. New orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft rose 1.5% in August partially reversing a 3.3% decline in July. The measure tracks capital goods—like large machinery for factories—that companies buy to upgrade or expand their plants.


That’s a notable improvement, but certainly not a roaring revival of business spending. Meanwhile, any fiscal chicanery in Washington DC could very easily spook businesses and lead them to put off investment plans.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly said the durable goods numbers were for October. They were August numbers.