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Transportation Outpacing Manufacturing Orders - By Jennifer Coombs

The tech-heavy NASDAQ is clearly making a push to get to all-time highs by the end of the month. Year-to-date, the index is the biggest outperformer in US markets, up over 7.5% while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average hover around 2% and 1% year-to-date, respectively. Although economic data was light for the session, earnings were plentiful as the conclusion of this week marks the end of the Q1-2015 earnings peak. The market is getting a sizable lift thanks to earnings from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). Today was Greece's self-imposed deadline to secure bailout funding and there still is no deal. European finance ministers are becoming increasingly frustrated with the country; however there doesn't appear to be a massive panic for the time being.

We round out the week with the lightest day of domestic economic data, however the one release today confirms what we already knew about the direction of the US industrial sector. Durable goods orders for the month of March rebounded by 4.0% after dropping by 1.4% in February, while the Street called for a 0.5% increase. Excluding transportation orders, the cored reading dipped to 0.2%, after a decline of 1.3% in February, while expectations were for a 0.3% boost for March. Transportation orders for the month were up huge, jumping by 13.5% after a 1.8% dip in February. Gains were reported across all major transportation subcomponents, but the core reading was soft. Within this core reading, nearly all orders were down. The only major industry to post gains in the month was computers & electronics. The biggest declines were witnessed among primary metals, fabricated metals, machinery, and electrical equipment. Total nondefense capital goods excluding aircraft (noted in the chart below) declined by 0.5% in March after a 2.2% dip in February. However, shipments of this group were slightly weaker than the month before, declining by 0.4% in March after a 0.1% decline in February. Ultimately, the manufacturing sector is weak outside of transportation, and provides the doves in the Federal Reserve with another reason to not raise interest rates anytime soon.