Orders for durable goods, long-lasting products like factory equipment and computers, rose in the US last month by more than economists had expected, data showed yesterday.
The figures were not robust enough, however, to allay all fears of a double-dip recession, and there were continuing calls for the Federal Reserve's chairman, Ben Bernanke, to announce more monetary stimulus at the Fed's annual policy symposium in Jackson Hole tomorrow.
"Markets are positioned for an epic beating if Mr Bernanke fails to come through," John Lonski, the chief US economist at Moody's said. Durable goods orders rose at an annualised rate of 4.0 per cent in July, after a 1.3 per cent drop in June.
A jump in orders for aircraft and cars – which were disrupted after Japan's earthquake – accounted for most of the rise. Stripping these out, the figures showed an unexpected 0.7 per cent rise in July, when a fall had been expected. Durable goods orders reflect businesses' confidence in the future.
"July's durable goods orders data are not good as they might look," Paul Dales, at Capital Economics, said. "Nonetheless, they still suggest that business investment may accelerate in the third quarter. This supports our view that third-quarter GDP growth won't be a complete write-off."