Durable goods orders, a series put out by the U.S. Commerce Department, is one of the more volatile monthly data issuances there is. Yet, in the most recent month, this metric was virtually unchanged, gaining the narrowest of margins, as such volume came in at $216.948 billion, up nominally from the September level of $216.900 billion.

By contrast, September's durable goods orders jumped by 9.2% from August. August's orders, meanwhile, tumbled by 13.1% from July. Expectations this past month had been for a modest 1.2% easing in such orders.

Meanwhile, excluding transportation, such orders rose by 1.5% in October following a gain of 1.7% in September and a drop of 2.0% in August.  The transportation component is especially volatile given the big-ticket aircraft that are included in the aggregate mix.

If we exclude the defense component, we find that orders were off by the narrowest of margins last month, easing by 0.1%. This key component was up 8.5% in September, but off by an outsized 12.3% in August.

As to other contributors, we saw new orders rise for primary metals, fabricated metal products, machinery, communications equipment, and nondefense capital goods. On the other hand, orders fell last month for transportation equipment, nondefense aircraft, defense aircraft and parts, and defense capital goods.

At the same time, shipments of durable goods, down two of the past three months, fell in October, decreasing $1.2 billion, or 0.6%, to $222.2 billion. Shipments of transportation equipment, also down for two of the last three months, likewise fell moderately, losing 1.3%, to $63.5 billion.

Encouragingly, orders for nondefense capital goods increased by 0.8%. This is a closely watched series, as capital spending is among the more indicative signs of the nation's economic well being. So, there is some modest optimism being expressed here.

Overall, though, this was an ordinary report and one that does not do much in the way of forecasting the pending economic trends in this country.   

At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.