Durable orders in surprise gain
Long-lasting manufactured goods orders increase 1.8% in May, third advance in past 4 months.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- New orders for long-lasting U.S. manufactured goods rose by a much stronger-than-expected 1.8% in May, Commerce Department data showed Wednesday, providing further evidence that the battered U.S. economy was finding its feet.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast durable goods orders would decline 0.6% last month. May's increase, the third gain in 4 months, followed a revised 1.8% gain in April, previously reported as a 1.7% rise.
New orders excluding transportation advanced 1.1% last month, compared with a forecast for a 0.4% decline, buoyed in part by a 7.7% rise in new machinery orders. This was the largest percentage increase in that category since March 2008, the Commerce Department said.
Orders excluding defense were 1.4% higher, versus a Reuters' poll prediction for a 0.4% drop.
Non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending, jumped 4.8% in May, the largest gain since September 2004, when they were up 8.2%. May's sharp rise compared with analyst forecasts for a 0.6% drop, and followed a revised 2.9% fall in April.
In one area of particular weakness, orders for motor vehicles and parts dropped 8.1% in May, the sharpest fall since August.
The Commerce Department said shipments of durable goods fell 2.1% in May, after falling 0.5% the month before.