By Agence France-Presse Orders for "big-ticket" durable U.S. goods surged by a steeper-than-expected margin in November, powered by soaring orders for commercial planes, the government said Thursday. Orders leapt 1.6%, surpassing widespread Wall Street expectations for a gain of 1.0%. The surge was driven by a 64.2% percent increase in orders for civilian aircraft. Stripping out all transportation industries, durable goods orders would have declined 0.8%. A breakdown showed: -- Computers and electronic products orders fell 4.2% as communication equipment orders plunged 35.0% and computer orders rose 4.1%. Capital goods orders rose 1.6%, including a 31.8% drop in defense capital goods orders and an 8.1% increase in civilian capital goods orders. Electrical equipment and appliance orders rose 4.6%. Machinery orders fell 3.3%. Primary metals orders gained 3.9% and fabricated metal product orders declined 0.4%. A closely watched guide to business investment plans -- non-military capital goods orders, excluding aircraft -- advanced 1.8%. "The 1.6% increase in durable goods orders and a similarly strong 1.8% gain in non-defense capital goods orders, excluding aircraft, indicate that the industrial expansion will continue at a moderately strong pace," said Manufacturers Alliance chief economist Daniel Meckstroth. "The recent decline in the value of the dollar should accelerate the growth in U.S. manufacturing exports and hold down the rate of increase in imports," Meckstroth said. "A drop in commodity prices, particularly oil, has been a welcome relief and should take some pressure off of profit margins." Shipments of durable goods from factories eased 0.2 percent in November.