U.S. manufacturers booked strong sales of big-ticket durable goods in August, with orders for aircraft, computers, autos and communications equipment all rising, according to government data released Wednesday.
The increase was more than double what analysts were expecting but not enough to reverse a steep decline in July driven by volatile aircraft sales. Sales of defense aircraft and other goods also swung low for the month, weighing on the August number, according to the monthly data.
Still, the strong showing could boost GDP growth in the third quarter.
Total orders for durable goods rose 1.7% compared to July to $232.8 billion, a full percentage point above a consensus forecast for an increase of 0.7%, the Commerce Department reported. So far this year, orders are up 5% over the same period of 2016.
Aircraft orders, which spiked in June and tanked in July, rebounded again in August, surging 44.8%. But excluding the transportation sector, which sees big swings from month to month, August orders were up only 0.2% from the prior month, the second straight monthly increase.
Excluding the defense sector, orders rose a strong 2.2%. Defense aircraft orders fell 24.3% while defense capital goods orders were the weakest since February, falling 9.4%. But orders for communications equipment saw their strongest monthly gain in nine months, rising 4%.
Motor vehicle orders, which have sagged during much of 2017, rose 1.5%. Capital goods orders not including aircraft, key to the all-important oil sector, rose 0.9%, slowing after July’s 1.1% gain.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2017