The durable orders release measures the dollar volume of orders, shipments, and unfilled orders of durable goods (defined as goods whose intended lifespan is three years or more). Orders are considered a leading indicator of manufacturing activity, and the market often moves on this report despite the volatility and large revisions that make it a less than perfect indicator. These problems can be minimized by looking at the breakdown of orders. The total number is often skewed by huge increases in aircraft and defense orders. An increase based solely on strength in one sector tends to be discounted, while the market is more impressed with broadbased increases in orders.
Also notable in this report is the narrow category of nondefense capital
goods. These goods mirror the GDP category producers' durable equipment (PDE) --
the largest component of business investment. Shipments of nondefense capital
goods are a good proxy for PDE in the current quarter, while nondefense capital
goods orders provide an indication of PDE growth in the quarters ahead.