US Durable Goods Orders Climb More Than Expected In February

A Boeing 737 aircraft is seen during the manufacturing process at Boeing's 737 airplane factory in Renton Washington

Orders in a category that reflects business investment plans - and excludes aircraft and military goods - fell 0.1 percent last month after a modest gain in January.

Orders for machinery inched up 0.1 percent while shipments increased 0.9 percent. Orders so far this year are running 1.6 percent higher than in the first two months of 2016.

Gauges of US business and consumer sentiment have surged since last fall's presidential election.

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The gradual rise in oil prices since late summer helped drive a recovery in capital expenditures, which began a sharp decline in late 2014, dragging on GDP growth. But that category remains stronger this year than during the opening months of last year. Economists say business spending could slow in the second quarter even as they expect an acceleration this quarter.

President Donald Trump has spotlighted the U.S. manufacturing sector in his jobs-focused economic agenda, although Friday's data was further indication the sector was already recovering. Forecasting firm Macroeconomic Advisers on Thursday estimated first-quarter growth at 1.2%.

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New durable goods order increases by 1.7% in February to slightly beat the median forecast by 0.2%, while shipments surged 1% after losing 0.3% in January. Durable goods orders rose 2.3 percent in January.

Civilian aircraft orders soared 47.6% in February. But demand for motor vehicles slumped.

This increase, up two consecutive months, followed a 2.3% January increase.

Orders for primary metals increased by 2.3% on the month to $18.89bn, while those for electrical equipment were up by 2.2% to $9.8bn.

Manufacturing production jumped in the early months of 2017 and was up 1.2% in February from a year earlier, the Federal Reserve reported last week.