Ahead of the Bell: US durable goods

Orders for US durable goods down 1.2 percent in September

FILE - In this March 13, 2015 file photo, workers inspect the new aluminum-alloy body Ford F-150 trucks before they get painted at the company's Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claycomo, Mo. The Commerce Department releases its September report on durable goods on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department releases its September report on durable goods at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Tuesday.

ORDERS DOWN: Economists believe orders for durable goods fell 1.2 percent in September, according to a survey by data firm FactSet.

MANUFACTURING TROUBLES: In August, orders dropped 2.3 percent with a key category that tracks business investment plans falling by 0.8 percent.

American manufacturers have struggled this year with weakness in many major overseas markets including Europe and China, the world's second largest economy. In addition to economic weakness overseas, the U.S. dollar has gained in strength, making American products more expensive in overseas markets.

The dollar has risen about 13 percent against other currencies in the past 12 months.

In the domestic economy, consumer demand for autos has been strong with September sales in rising nearly 16 percent from a year ago to their highest peak in nearly a decade. But outside of cars, consumers are spending cautiously.

Retail sales have grown only modestly in the past two months. That has left many businesses with an overhang of unsold products. Economists believe that efforts to work down high inventory levels were a major drag on the overall economy in the just-completed July-September quarter.

While growth, as measured by the gross domestic product, increased at a 3.9 percent rate in the second quarter, economists expect third quarter growth will be much more modest with many looking for GDP to expand at a 1.7 percent rate in the July-September period.

The Federal Reserve will wrap up a two-day meeting on Wednesday. The expectation is that the central bank will leave key interest rates unchanged at a record low near zero, where it has remained since December 2008. Analysts said there is still a chance for a rate hike at the Fed's last meeting of the year in December but for that to happen, they believe anemic figures on job growth and consumer spending will need to rebound to stronger levels.