Wall Street is looking for a gargantuan economic reading this week. The big question is whether it matters.
Economists polled by Reuters are looking for durable goods orders to show a 5 percent increase, versus last month's 0.7 percent rise. However, economists think the increase is powered mostly by new orders from Boeing, which booked 324 orders in July, a single-month record for the company. Durables ex-transport, by comparison, are only expected to rise by 0.6 percent.
"It's all Boeing," said Robert Stein, an economist at First Trust Advisors and a known master of durable goods. "People shouldn't read too much into it, but it is important in the sense that Boeing orders show a general improvement in the economy. Airlines wouldn't be that optimistic about purchasing planes if they didn't think the economy was so good."
Stein actually expects an above-consensus increase of 17 percent. That would actually mark an all-time high for the data series (surpassing a 16.6 percent increase in June 2000). But as for his estimate of the ex-transportation number, Stein is looking for just 0.1 percent.
"I think it leads the economy a little bit, but the reading is obviously volatile, so you have to take it with a grain of salt," he said.