Reflation On? Why the Durable Goods Number Was Important, September 28, 2017

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Durable Goods
• August Durable Goods rose 1.7% vs. (E) 1.5%.

Wednesday’s Durable Goods report was a surprisingly strong number, and if it’s the start of a trend in the data, then we could finally be seeing an economic reflation.

The reason the Durable Goods number was so strong wasn’t because of the headline (it was a mild beat, but revisions largely offset it), but instead because of the key New Orders for Non-Defense Capital Goods ex-Aircraft (NDCGXA). NDCGXA surged 0.9% vs. (E) 0.3%, and the July number was revised sharply higher to 1.1% from 0.4%, signaling that business spending and investment accelerated during the summer.

That’s a legitimately positive surprise, as business spending and investment have been lackluster so far in 2017.

But if we see that activity pick up (and importantly close the gap between actual data and survey data), then that will help push broad economic growth higher. And if inflation keeps accelerating, then we’ve got a legitimate reflation.

Stocks reacted accordingly to this surprisingly good data, as the market rallied (growth is good) and was led higher by our “reflation basket” of banks (KRE), industrials, smalls caps, and inverse bond ETFs. That carried through to other assets, as bond yields surged on the news to new multi-week highs while the dollar also broke above 93.00.

Bottom line, this was a legitimately positive surprise for markets, and stocks and the dollar/bonds reacted accordingly. However, one number does not make a trend, so we’ll need to see continued acceleration in other data (industrial production) before we can confidently say the gap between very strong, “soft” survey data and actual, hard economic numbers is closing in a bullish way. Still, yesterday’s number was definitely a good start.

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