Durable goods orders rebound in Jan.; weekly jobless claims bump up

February 26 04:47 2016

Orders to U.S. companies for long-lasting manufactured goods advanced in January at the strongest pace in 10 months. Moreover, a key category that tracks business investment surged by the largest amount in 19 months. The bigger-than-expected gains could be a sign of better days ahead for the nation’s beleaguered manufacturers.635628146571895378-BLM-DURABLE-GOODS

The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods, items ranging from autos and appliances to steel and machinery, rose 4.9% last month. That represented a rebound from a 4.6% plunge in December. Demand in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment plans rose 3.9% in January, reversing a 3.7% fall in December. It was the biggest advance in this category since June 2014.

Applications for jobless benefits rise but remain at low levels. More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, though the figure remained at a low level that suggests layoffs aren’t widespread. The Labor Department says weekly applications rose 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 272,000. The four-week average, a less volatile figure, declined 1,250 to 272,000.

The figures indicate that weak overseas economies and wild swings in the stock market haven’t caused employers to cut jobs. Applications are a proxy for layoffs, and have been at historically low levels for nearly a year. Employers appear confident enough in future growth to hold onto their staffs. Job gains have been solid for the past three years, pushing the unemployment rate down to an eight-year low of 4.9 percent. Wage gains are accelerating, but still remain below levels consistent with a healthy economy.