New orders for durable goods jumped 3.5% to $242 billion for November, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today. The increase was led by a 21.8% surge in demand for commercial aircraft, which can be volatile. 

November's boost proved significantly larger than expected. Overall, analysts had predicted a 1.5% increase. Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years.

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Source: Census.gov. 

Excluding volatile transportation orders (which include aircraft), the latest report's numbers remain positive. Analyst expectations called for 0.7% gains, but actual new orders excluding transportation clocked in up 1.2%. Core capital goods, a category that tracks business investment, rose 4.5%, the biggest gain since January. This category is seen as a gauge of business plans to expand and modernize and as a measure of business confidence. 

Shipments also managed an increase, up 1.5% to $238 billion. Unfilled orders advanced 1% to $1,059 billion, and inventories squeaked up 0.3% to $385 billion. November was a record-breaking month, with all three categories reaching all-time highs since data was first collected in 1992.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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