Overall orders to U.S. factories fell in January on weakening demand for transportation equipment, but orders for goods that signal business investment surged, indicating confidence in the economy, the government reported Wednesday.
The Commerce Department said orders for manufactured goods fell 2.0 percent in January following a 1.8 percent increase in December. The January decline was due to a 19.8 percent plunge in transportation equipment, as orders for defense aircraft and parts fell sharply.
Excluding the volatile transportation category, factory orders increased 1.3 percent, indicating underlying strength in the sector.
Demand for durable goodsâ€”expensive manufactured items expected to last at least three yearsâ€”fell 4.9 percent, largely due to falling aircraft orders. Orders for durable goods excluding transportation rose 2.3 percent. Demand for non-durable goods, like chemicals and paper, rose 0.6 percent.
Orders for core capital goodsâ€”seen as a measure of business confidence and spending plansâ€”jumped 7.2 percent in January, the biggest gain in more than a year. The increase suggests companies kept expanding their production capacities in January, even as taxes rose and automatic government spending cuts loomed.