WASHINGTON -- Orders for airplanes, computers and other long-lasting durable goods rose more than expected in May, the third increase in four months and a sign of strengthening in the vital manufacturing sector.
Durable goods orders rose 3.6% in May from the previous month to $231 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Analysts had expected a 3% rise.
The May increase matched a revised 3.6% rise in April. Durable goods orders were down 5.9% in March, largely because of slumping demand for aircraft.
Orders for aircraft and other big-ticket transportation equipment are an important factor in the monthly data.
New transportation equipment orders were up $6.9 billion, or 10.2%, in May, fueling the monthly increase, the Commerce Department said. Commercial aircraft orders increased by $6.3 billion, or 51%, from the previous month.
Factoring out transportation equipment, durable goods orders rose 0.7% in May, down from 1.7% the previous month. Factoring out defense, another major component, new durable goods orders rose 3.5% in May, up from 2.5% in April.
In a read on business investment, orders for non-defense capital goods, excluding aircraft, rose 1.1% last month following a 1.2% increase in April.