Take a monster winter storm for the northeast of the United States, travel restrictions and an extended commute for those who dare, and combine it with an equally gloomy forecast from industrial and machinery bellwether Caterpillar and you have a less than perfect set-up for the trading day.
And if you toss into the ring illiquid trading conditions and a lousy durable goods report you have the perfect storm and a one-day bear market in the making. The December durable goods reading was well below forecast and showed a decline of 3.4% at the headline level. Most component pieces slid with the ex-defense reading falling by 3.2% as aircraft orders fell by more than half to $6.0 billion.
Orders for longer-lasting goods across manufacturing, primary metals, machinery, computers and electronics all fell sharply. Those for transport items slid by 9.2% even as orders for autos and parts rose by 2.7%. Overall orders for capital goods, indicative of future investment demand by corporate America, slid by 9.3%. The report exacerbated weakness in stocks following bad earnings-related news from Microsoft and Procter & Gamble, where a stronger dollar impacted profits.
The weaker-than-expected durable goods report is so bad that it clouds the silver lining of a 1.1% rise in shipments for December, which will likely insulate GDP into the end of the year. But the outlook for the first quarter is off to a dim start, which is why stocks dropped and the U.S. 10-year yield was lower out of the gate this morning at 1.77%.