February 24, 2006 – Real U.S. shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft (an indicator of business fixed investment spending) edged down by 0.1% in January (essentially flat) after a big 3.7% December gain (Chart 1).
Despite January’s slowing, growth in these shipments averaged 1.4% per month (nearly an 18% annual rate) for the last 3 months.
Compared to the same month last year, real non-defense capital good shipments excluding aircraft rose by a more moderate (but still decidedly sturdy) 4.9% in January (Chart 2).
As of January, Q1 real shipments of non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft were growing at nearly a 10% annual rate, compared to their Q4 average (+15.7% in Q4, Chart 3).
Thus, these data suggest a strong start for real business fixed investment in equipment & software (as measured by the GDP accounts) in Q1.