Amid generally good economic news, there was one troubling number released recently. Durable goods orders rose 1.7 percent in February, but new orders for nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft edged down by 1 percent. The move down might be evidence that businesses continue to hold back on investing heavily in their own businesses.
Overall, orders through the first two months of 2017 are up only 1.3 percent from a year ago. That is slower than January’s growth rate, which was 2.6 percent year-over-year. January was the first time the measure had grown on a year-over-year basis since October 2015, and only the second time since December 2014.
There has been definite improvement in recent months. Last summer, the year-over-year figures were running down 3 to 4 percent. But last month’s figures continue to point to a sluggish economy.