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Manufacturing, goods trade data point to slow growth

Thursday, March 01, 2018

WASHINGTON - New orders for US-made capital goods unexpectedly fell for a second straight month in January and shipments barely rose, pointing to a slowdown in business spending on equipment and in economic growth early in the first quarter.

The moderation in growth was underscored by other data on Tuesday showing a widening in the goods trade deficit last month amid decreasing exports. The reports joined weak January retail sales, industrial production and home sales data in suggesting the economy lost momentum at the start of the year.

But overall economic activity remains supported by robust consumer confidence, which surged to a more than 17-year high in February. Rising house prices are also boosting household wealth, helping to underpin consumer spending.

"Growth this year should be strong, maybe even in the 3 per cent range, but to get there, current business and consumer spending patterns have to change," said Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania.

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