WASHINGTON -- Orders for long-lasting durable goods rose sharply in September, driven largely by a surge in demand for commercial aircraft, the Commerce Department said Friday.
New orders increased 3.7% after an upwardly revised 0.2% increase in August. The September performance exceeded analyst expectations of a 2.5% increase.
It was the fifth increase in six months for an important indicator of future economic activity. Durable goods are items such as computers, appliances and aircraft meant to last at least three years.
The sharp September rise was fueled mostly by a surge in orders at Boeing Corp. The aircraft manufacturer reported 127 new orders last month, up from 16 in August.
Overall, new orders for non-defense aircraft and parts were up 57.5% in September, the Commerce Department said.
Factoring out the volatile transportation sector, new orders dropped last month by 0.1%. Still, that was an improvement from August's 0.4% drop in non-transportation orders.
The September drop indicated that businesses might have pulled back on orders in anticipation of the partial government shutdown that began Oct. 1.
A gauge of business investment -- new orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft -- was down 1.1% in September, the Commerce Department said. That followed a downwardly revised 0.4% increase in August.