Durable goods orders rose in November, paced by a surge in orders for commercial and defense aircraft.
Orders increased 0.8% to $250.8 billion last month, up from a revised $248.9 billion in October, the U.S. Commerce Department said in a monthly report. The gain snapped a streak of two monthly declines. That included a 4.3% slide in October.
Excluding transportation, orders declined 0.3%. Excluding defense, orders slid 0.1%.
The overall transportation equipment category advanced 2.9% to $87 billion. It was the third increase for the sector in the last four months.
Within transportation, orders for commercial aircraft and parts increased 6.7% to $10.2 billion. Orders for defense aircraft surged 31.5% to $6.8 billion. For much of the year, aircraft orders have been volatile, often posting big gains or declines.
The other major part of the transportation category, motor vehicles and parts, fell 0.2% to $60.7 billion. That sector had increased the two previous months.
Cox Automotive on Dec. 20 that 2018 U.S. sales of cars and light trucks will finish strong in December. The company said it expects deliveries for the year to total 17.2 million, a slight increase from 2017. That would be the fourth straight year above 17 million.
“There is no denying 2018 was a very good year for the U.S. auto industry,” Charlie Chesbrough, Cox’s senior economist, said in a written statement. “Many economic factors pointed to a slowdown in the second half of the year, but sales remained in high gear, and it looks like they will finish that way as well.”
In other categories, orders for primary metals rose 1% to $21.5 billion; orders for fabricated metal products advanced 0.5% to $33.6 billion; and orders for machinery slid 1.7% to $32.8 billion.