Durable goods orders rose in December, the fourth increase in five months, paced by orders for aircraft.
Orders rose 2.9% to $249.4 billion, up from a revised $242.4 billion in November, the US Commerce Department said in a monthly report.
Excluding transportation equipment, orders increased 0.6%, the department said. Excluding defense, new orders advanced 2.2%.
The overall transportation category gained 7.4% last month to $87.2 billion. Orders for commercial aircraft and parts rose 16% to $14.5 billion. Orders for defense aircraft and parts surged 55% to $5.3 billion.
Also within transportation, orders for motorized vehicles and parts rose 0.4% to $56.8 billion.
December’s figures matched the general pattern of 2017’s second half. Commercial aircraft mostly posted large gains while motorized vehicle and parts recorded mostly small, incremental gains.
US sales of cars and light trucks declined 1.8% to 17.23 million in 2017. Truck sales continued to rise last year but that couldn’t overcome a plunge in car deliveries. Automakers are shifting production to increase truck output and cutting car production.
Among other categories, orders for primary metals gained 1.4% $20.8 billion. Orders for fabricated metal products increased 0.9% to $33.6 billion. Orders for machinery rose 0.6% to $33.2 billion.