New orders for durable goods increased 3.7% to $233.4 billion for September, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today.
After a steep drop in July and a slight gain in August, September's growth was greater than expected. Overall, analysts had predicted a 2.5% increase. Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years, and their movements are watched by analysts as an indicator of longer-term economic confidence (or lack thereof).
A 57.5% jump in aircraft orders accounted for nearly all the gain in the latest report. Commercial aircraft is a volatile category that can swing widely from month to month. Boeing says it received orders for 127 planes in September, up from just 16 in August.
In September, demand fell for machinery, fabricated metals, electrical equipment and autos. Orders rose for computers and communications equipment and defense-related goods.
Excluding volatile transportation orders (which include aircraft), new orders in September actually fell 0.1%. Analysts had expected 0.5% growth in this category.
While new orders made minimal moves outside of transportation, shipments increased 0.2% to $231.8 billion, their highest level since data were first recorded in 1992. Unfilled orders and inventories also broke their all-time records, increasing 0.8% to $1,041 billion and 0.9% to $383 billion, respectively.
-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.